Squamous Cell Carcinoma in situ (Bowen’s disease)
Bowen’s Disease is a relatively common, non-spreading, superficial type of skin cancer. It is confined to the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). It is characterised by a scaly, slow-growing, pink patch of variable thickness. If caught in the early stages routine treatment is all that is required. Left untreated Bowen’s disease can progress to a more invasive skin cancer, known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma or SCC.
It most commonly occurs on the:
- Arms or lower legs.
Bowen’s disease often causes no symptoms which may result in a delay in seeking treatment. It may be mistaken for other conditions such as:
Causes of Bowen’s disease include:
- Sun exposure (the major cause).
- Suppressed immune system from either medications or other medical problems.
- In some cases arsenic exposure has led to the development of Bowen’s disease later in life.
How is Bowen’s disease diagnosed?
Bowen’s disease is typically diagnosed by its appearance. A biopsy may be required for confirmation prior to treatment.
How is Bowen’s disease treated?
Dr Gillespie will discuss your treatment options, they will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The location, size and width of your lesion.
- Your age and health at the time of diagnosis.
- Your preference and ability to undertake the treatment.
- Your cosmetic concerns.
- Any previous treatments.
- Availability and cost of treatment.
Following your treatment:
A small percentage of Bowen’s disease may reappear after treatment. We recommend regular follow up visits.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (invasive)
This presents as a fast-growing, slightly painful nodule often with a scaly top. It may arise from a solar keratosis or pre-existing Bowen’s disease. About 2% of all SCCs may spread first to the lymph glands and then elsewhere. Larger lesions and those lesions on the lip, scalp and ear are more prone to metastasise.
Causes of SCC
- Sun exposure
- Chronic ulcers and scars
- Previous radiotherapy
Most lesions require excision although some lesions are better suited to treatment with radiotherapy.
Followup on a regular basis is essential if you have been diagnosed with an SCC.
If you have previously been diagnosed with Bowens Disease or SCC, you should protect your skin from any further sun damage.
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