Bowenoid Papulosis

Skin Condition

Bowenoid papulosis is a rare form of precancerous lesion (also known as an intraepithelial neoplasia) that is the result of a human papilloma virus or HPV infection. HPV is the same virus as that which causes genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer in women.

Bowenoid Papulosis

This disease appears as small red, brown, or flesh colored growths on the penis, labia, or anus. There are no other symptoms besides the appearance of these growths. Fortunately, this disease is in most cases self-limiting, meaning that it usually resolves without medical intervention within months to years of its appearance.

In a small fraction of cases, however, these lesions will progress into squamous cell carcinoma – a malignant form of skin cancer. Even then, however, squamous cell carcinoma responds very well to treatment in its early stages. For these reasons the prognosis of someone with bowenoid papulosis is quite good. The elderly, HIV patients, and people who are otherwise immunosuppressed are at a higher risk for progression into malignancy.

HPV is a very common sexually transmitted disease. It can cause genital warts to form, but, to use bowenoid papulosis as an example, it can also lead to far more dangerous diseases. Cervical cancer is another such example. Luckily there exists a vaccine – Gardasil – that both young boys and girls may receive which prevents infection from certain HPV strains that are most likely to lead to cancer. If you are suffering from the symptoms of Bowenoid papulosis or HPV make an appointment with your dermatologist for evaluation and treatment.

Photo credit: Leszek Woźniak & Krzysztof W. Zieliński

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