Bowen’s disease is a rare skin condition that is a precursor to some forms of skin cancer. Luckily, this disease is easily treatable, especially when caught early. Some of the most recognizable indications include a visible red patch on the skin, which may be itchy and scaly. Bowen’s disease affects the exterior layer of skin and grows slowly over time. If you observe any symptoms, you should contact your doctor to rule out other more serious conditions. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common symptoms and treatments for Bowen’s disease.
1. Patches on the Skin
The most common Bowen’s disease symptom to spot is a patch that appears on the skin. Patches may appear in various parts of the body, including the arms, legs, neck, and head. To distinguish Bowen’s disease from other similar conditions, look for edges that appear clear and don’t improve over time. Moreover, patches can pop up in more than one location across the body. If left untreated, patches may turn red or pink, and bleeding may be present. Exposure to the sun can increase the likelihood of developing patches; it’s essential to apply sunscreen regularly if you live in a region with abundant sunshine.
2. Open Sores
Sometimes, affected individuals can spot Bowen’s disease due to the presence of open sores. Also known as ulcers, open sores usually indicate that the condition has progressed from its initial stage to a squamous cell skin cancer. That’s why it’s critical to receive an early diagnosis. Open sores can start to bleed, and drainage may occur. Moreover, patches can also develop lumps in and around the affected part of the skin. Bowen’s disease treatment is more accessible during the preliminary stages of the condition and involves mostly non-intrusive therapies. As the situation progresses, treatment becomes more difficult.
3. Itchy Skin
If you have Bowen’s disease, it’s not infrequent to feel sensitivity or itchiness on the skin. The patches on the affected areas of the body can become dry and flaky, therefore causing the skin to feel itchy. Many people initially disregard these symptoms, but if left untreated, Bowen’s disease can evolve into a more serious form of skin cancer. Scratching the skin can worsen symptoms. Likewise, patches on the skin may ooze pus and in serious cases bleed. The best way to treat itchy skin is to have the affected areas removed, which is usually done by freezing or in some cases surgically removing the affected parts.
There are some vital clues to look out for when it comes to Bowen’s disease. Amongst such indications is the appearance of bumps on the skin. The cancerous transformation in Bowen’s disease can be traced to the development of fleshy bumps, which more often than not appear on a skin lesion. Moreover, bumps on the skin are likely to bleed easily. This symptom is often accompanied by other related signs such as itchiness, dry skin, and patches on the skin. Besides bumps, you should also look out for ulceration of a skin lesion, which is another potential indication that the condition has evolved into a malignant stage.
5. Lesion on Lower Leg
The part of the body that is most likely to be affected by Bowen’s disease is the lower leg, not least because this is the most sun-exposed area of the body. Lesions on the lower leg appear red with irregular borders and surface crusting. Even though anyone can become infected, Bowen’s disease usually affects people over the age of 30. Most cases affect women, with up to 85% of all patients reporting lesions on the lower leg. If you notice any unusual symptoms, it’s important to consult your doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause of the symptoms.
6. Treatment – Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is one of the most popular treatment options for Bowen’s disease because it is relatively easy to perform, it doesn’t cause pain or long-term harmful consequences, and is highly affordable. Cryotherapy refers to the use of low temperatures with the aim of freezing damaged or malignant tissue. This treatment can be performed in one sitting, or multiple sessions can be executed depending on the specific circumstances of each patient. Cryotherapy can usually be performed by a dermatologist although doctors can also use it.
7. Treatment – Cryotherapy Topical Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is one of the most effective ways of treating cancers of the skin. This type of treatment employs powerful chemicals that destroy cancer cells, thus removing the source of the disease. For skin cancers – including Bowen’s disease – chemotherapy is used as a topical cream that’s directly applied to the skin. This treatment form is optimal for many patients because it can be performed at home. Moreover, topical creams aren’t invasive and don’t usually cause serious side effect besides period inflammation and soreness. A variety of topical treatments exist on the market, so your doctor can help you determine which one is the most suitable for you.
8. Treatment – Electrocautery
Also known as thermal cautery, electrocautery is a treatment that uses direct current administered through a metal wire that generates heat. The resulting heat is used to destroy or modify damaged or cancerous tissue on the skin. The advantages of electrocautery are many; it’s applicable for a number of conditions and can achieve various levels of tissue repair. Another benefit of this treatments is that it is safe, despite relying on electricity. The current doesn’t pass through the patient, ensuring that individuals with pacemakers or other metallic or surgical implants aren’t harmed.
9. Treatment – Photodynamic Therapy
A considerable amount of Bowen’s disease patients opt for photodynamic therapy to treat their condition. This treatment uses a mix or internally administered drugs and a particular type of light to create oxygen, thus killing affected cells. The first stage of treatment involves injecting a photosensitizing agent into the bloodstream, which is quickly absorbed by the body. However, the chemical only attaches itself to cancerous cells, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Then, a unique light is activated, and when absorbed into the cancerous cells, creates oxygen which harms the area around the infection site.
10. Treatment – Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy is – besides chemotherapy and surgery – the most commonplace treatment for many types of cancers. Radiotherapy works by creating small breaks inside cancer cells, thus ensuring that they are not able to grow and divide. Unfortunately, despite radiation being effective, it also comes with a number of side effects, many of which can be highly unpleasant. For starters, it can lead to hair loss, which can take years to grow back. Moreover, it may also target healthy cells, leading to long-lasting skin and organ damage. However, specialized medication can help to treat the most serious side-effects.