What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ?
In This Article
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ, also called as Bowen’s Disease, is the early stage of skin cancer. In case you are wondering what “in Situ” means, it means that the cancer affects the uppermost layer of the skin; it does not affect the underlying healthy tissues. Bowen’s Disease can be in many parts of the body, but it is usually seen in the areas that are exposed to Ultraviolet Rays. Bowen’s Disease has been associated with HPV or Human Papilloma Virus, according to various studies intended to reveal the cause of the said condition.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ in the Skin
The lesions that are seen in a patient with Bowen’s Disease has red spotty patches, it is also characterized by its shape that is clearly defined. This condition is relatively benign in nature because the lesions are superficial and it does not reach the lower tissues of the skin, but the worst case scenario is that the lesions can progress to an invasive type of squamous cell carcinoma.
Sign and Symptoms
Patients will have a single asymptomatic lesion, it will enlarge very slowly then it will multiply and change its color from normal skin color to a reddish color. The Bowen’s Disease lesions are characterized by non-elevated lesions that have an irregular border. Lesions may appear anywhere in the patient’s body. Bowen’s disease lesions are most commonly seen in the areas of our body where there is a direct exposure to the sun.
Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of Bowen’s Disease are different among patients, but I listed some of the factors that are associated with the skin condition. Please note that if you have or experienced the things that I have listed doesn’t mean that you will have the condition. The list that I will provide is the risk factors that are linked to Bowen’s Disease.
- Positive Family History – Family History has a strong relationship with diseases that we had, we are having, and we will have in the future. Although not definite, somehow researchers are able to find certain connections between our genes and our overall health.
- Excessive Sun Exposure – Sun exposure is not bad, in fact, it is good for everyone to go out in the sun once in a while. But if there is an excessive exposure to sunlight, there can be consequences, skin diseases are often related to sunlight exposure.
- HPV Infection – According to a research study about Bowen’s Disease, HPV or Human Papilloma Virus infection can predispose a person to Bowen’s Disease.
- Long-term Skin Condition/Injury – Chronic skin diseases can cause destruction and harm to our healthy cells, this may cause our cells to mutate and produce cancer cells that can lead to various skin cancers.
- Decreased Immune System – This one is self explanatory, a person with decreased immune system will increase the chance to catch an infection then it will proceed to a long-term health condition, in the worst case scenario, it can develop into a terminal illness. (e.g. Cancer)
Bowen’s Disease lesions are asymptomatic; this is why the patient’s diagnosis of Bowen’s disease is often delayed. To diagnose Bowen’s Disease properly, we will need to extract a specimen from the lesion and perform a procedure called biopsy. This is a procedure where pathologists will observe the specimen under a microscope to identify the lesion structure and to properly diagnose the health condition of the patient. Although there are many ways to perform a biopsy, a Shave Skin Biopsy is done to extract the specimen from the lesion.
Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ
There are several treatments available for patients who have Bowen’s Disease. Each of them has their advantage and disadvantages. Since we are talking about lesions here, lesion’s characteristics are the basis of the treatment such as size, site, and the number of lesions. Patient may also prefer to have cheaper treatment. Although this type of condition can be treated in several ways, the recurrence rate is high so a periodic follow-up is needed to ensure that we can intervene with the patient’s condition before it is too late. I have listed the treatments that are commonly used to treat Bowen’s Disease.
Since Bowen’s Disease is a type of cancer, we can give the patient chemotherapy sessions. This method will kill the cancer cells; however, this can also kill our normal cells in the body.
Patient can prefer this method if they are not able to withstand surgical procedures. Radiation can destroy the cancer cells locally and this can prevent side effects unlike chemotherapy that can induce systemic side effects.
Surgery can be an option to patients, but it is less practical since Bowen’s Disease can recur in a matter of months. But still if the patient prefers surgical intervention, there are available surgical treatment for Bowen’s Disease.
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