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Bowen’s Disease

Bowen’s disease is also known as intraepidermal squamous cell carcinoma, and is a growth of cancerous cells that is confined to the outer layer of the skin.

Bowen’s Disease is not a serious condition, and its importance rests on the fact that, occasionally, it can progress into an invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) skin cancer. For this reason, dermatologists usually treat, or at least monitor, Bowen's disease. 

Most cases of Bowen’s disease develop as a result of long-term sun exposure. Very occasionally, Bowen’s disease may be seen in the context of previous radiotherapy, following chronic arsenic ingestion (very rare nowadays) or on the genitalia in association with the virus that causes warts (the human papillomavirus). Bowen's disease is neither infectious, nor due to an allergy.

As Bowen’s disease is confined to the surface of the skin it can be treated with certain creams, usually 5-fluorouracil (Efudix) cream or imiqimod (Aldara) cream. Cryotharapy or skin surgery are other treatment options. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an excellent treatment which rarely has problems with healing and is therefore of particular benefit in older patients with swollen leg which are otherwise very prone to ulceration.

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