Medical Q&As

Bowen's disease - what is it?

Is Bowen’s disease a form of skin cancer? How is it treated and can it be cured.

Bowen’s disease presents as a dry rough patch of skin. It generally occurs on the trunk and often looks remarkably similar to a patch of psoriasis or even a fungal infection of the skin. It is technically referred to as a carcinoma in situ, which means that it is an early phase in the evolution of skin cancer. The situation can be compared to a woman having an abnormal smear test in the sense that the cells are not yet cancerous but there is a high probability that the cells will eventually progress on to being malignant. If left untreated Bowen’s disease could slowly grow over the years and expand on the surface of the skin and develop into a squamous carcinoma of the skin, which could become invasive. The condition is usually treated by excision biopsy, which means that the entire lesion, rather than a portion of it is removed. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for confirmation of the diagnosis. This procedure is curative. Some doctors treat the lesions by freezing them off with liquid nitrogen, which is technically referred to as cryotherapy. You can learn more about skin cancer by reading our special feature, which is accessible through the following link: