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Bowens Disease a Cencer

What Is Bowens Disease?

Bowens disease is a form of skin caner also known by the name squamous cell carcinoma in situ (SCC in situ). The addition of the words “in situ” at the end refer to the facts that this is a form of skin cancer that is only on the surface. On the other hand, “invasive” squamous cell carcinoma grows inward and has the potential to spread. The name Bowens disease for squamous cell carcinoma in situ honors the doctor responsible for its discovery over one hundred years ago.

SCC in situ, a red scaly patch, which tends to be seen in areas frequently exposed to the sun, sometimes itches, crusts, or oozes; Most of them time, however, are not associated with any particular kind of feeling. Because of the red, scaly patches, this type of skin cancer is sometimes mistaken for a rash, eczema, fungus, or psoriasis. Because they are sometimes brown and may appear to look like keratosis or melanoma, it is important for a biopsy to be performed to confirm the diagnosis, keeping in mind that the earlier treatment is started, the better the chances for full recovery.

For patients who have had SCC in situ, there is a higher than normal rate for other types of skin caner to form. Because of this increased risk, it is important to have regular skin examinations by a dermatologist. If SCC in situ is not treated, it will become larger as time passes, sometimes spreading out several inches. Additionally, 5% of untreated SCC in situ will grow into invasive squamous cell carcinoma.


What Causes Bowens Disease?

Bowens Disease is caused by persistent sun exposure and aging as are the other forms of skin cancer. However, two other causes, unique to SCC in situ, have been identified. HPV-16, the wart virus responsible for causing cervical cancer, is often found to also be infecting SCC in situ. It is because of this that it is believed two people can have an equal amount of sun damage, yet only one has repeated incidences of skin cancers. Arsenic, the poison the Russian villain, Rasputin, made famous, is the other factor that causes SCC in situ. Many years ago, it was used in some medical elixirs and contaminated some old water wells. Although people who suffered mild arsenic poisoning did not die, they had a tendency to develop skin and internal cancers. At one time it was believed that SCC in situ was a warning that an internal form of cancer was going to develop, but it was later discovered this false impression was created as a result of the effects of arsenic poisoning.

Treatment for Bowens Disease

For smaller SCC in situ, surgical excision is the common treatment involving the removal of approximately one quarter of an inch past the edge of the cancer. Larger cancers can also be excused, but Mohs surgery, which has the highest rate of all the known treatment methods, may be necessary.

For those patients who are not up to surgery, you still have some choices available to you. SCC in situ is capable of being burned off using several methods, which are referred to as "curettage and electrodessication", liquid nitrogen cryotherapy and laser destruction, all of which heal with similar type of scars.

Patients who are poor surgical candidates of have multiple sites can be given X-ray or grenz ray radiation therapy, but this method is very expensive and requires a number of visits to the hospital. The use of Efudex Cream for one to three months often works, but it tends to leave an uncomfortable, raw area during the course of treatment. Aldara Cream is seen as very promising, and though the cure rate may be somewhat better, it is still undergoing studies to determine the overall benefits of its use.

Photodynamic therapy is a new treatment the FDA has recently approved, but it is not yet available for common use. PDT is another method for burning off SCC in situ with the use of a drug that attacks only the cancer cells. A bright light is then applied which causes the release of toxins and destroys the tumor.

The dermatologist who best knows your situation based on knowledge, experience, and expertise is best equipped to decide your course of treatment. However, the best way to avoid skin cancer is to protect your skin with the sun with sun block that contains at least SPF-15, wear a wide brimmed hat, and eat a healthy, low-fat diet.

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