Bowen's disease is a very common mild form of skin cancer, affecting only upper layers of the skin. It tends to grow slowly progression is unusual.
Treatment options for Bowen's disease
Surgical removal of Bowen's disease is considered the “gold standard” treatment for superficial basal cell carcinoma because:
- it has the highest success rate
- it allows a skin pathologist to examine the removed skin and conform that the basal cell carcinoma has been completely removed.
However, since Bowen's disease is relatively minor, for some people there are other considerations:
- Cosmetic appearance (i.e. minimal scarring after treatment)
- Convenience and duration of treatment
- Wish to avoid side effects such as pain, bleeding, bruising and infection
The table below summarises treatment options for Bowen's disease and may be helpful in reaching a decision on the most appropriate form of treatment.
Also known as
Symptoms and signs
Scaly plaque, usually red or pink but sometimes brown, up to several centimetres in diameter
Usually located on areas that have received long term sun exposure, such as the face, ears, forearms and lower legs
Long term sun exposure
Exposure to arsenic
Infection with human papillomavirus
Immune suppression due to disease (e.g. chronic lymphocytic leukaemia) or medications (e.g. methotrexate)
Prognosis / outcome
Avoid unnecessary ultraviolet exposure
Nicotinamide (vitamin B3) 500mg tablets taken twice daily reduce the risk of future Bowen's disease
News / blog articles
Recommended web links
Efudix cream: consumer medicine information
Information about the uses of Efudix (fluorouracil), how to take it, potential side effects and contraindications.
Intraepidermal squamous cell carcinoma
Description of intraepithelial squamous cell carcinoma, also known as Bowen's disease. Includes risk factors, treatments and clinical images.
Description of nicotinamide (vitamin B3) and its effects on the skin. Includes a discussion of mechanisms of action and use in skin cancer prevention, anti-ageing skin care, rosacea, acne and other dermatological conditions.
Product information for 5-fluorouracil 5% / calcipotriol 0.005% topical cream
Information about calcipotriol/ fluorouracil including instructions on how to take and side effects
Understanding skin cancer
A Cancer Council booklet to help you understand more about common skin cancers.