Coleen Noleen recently revealed the skin cancer ‘red flag’ that she mistook for eczema. Appearing on Monday’s instalment of Loose Woman, the 58 year-old shared that she had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and later on, melanoma.
Coleen admitted that she was wary of telling people, as she didn’t think it compared to her sister Linda’s battle, who recently revealed that her incurable cancer has spread to her brain.
The presenter recounted that she had noticed a “tiny” patch of skin on her shoulder that had become red and wouldn’t heal, but believed it to be eczema. It was only on a trip to the dermatologist months later for a separate issue that she decided to get it checked out – then diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.
What Coleen didn’t realise was that this small, seemingly harmless shoulder mark is a very early sign of skin cancer that can easily go unnoticed. Known as Bowen’s disease, it appears as patches anywhere on the skin, especially on exposed areas, takes years to grow and is often mistaken for harmless dermal issues, like eczema.
Thankfully, the condition is treatable, as was Coleen’s, who underwent successful, six-week treatment with a chemo cream. It was after this that she decided to get a mark on her nose checked out and this was diagnosed as melanoma.
If left to develop, Bowen’s disease can morph into a more serious form of the disease called squamous skin cell cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most prevalent skin cancer and is distinguished by abnormal growth of squamous cells, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. SCC’s symptoms are more recognizable, forming in raised, dark bumps.
Lesions caused by SCC can become deadly and spread to other parts of the body, causing serious complications. So, what can Bowen disease look like? Here’s what you should know.
Symptoms of Bowen’s disease
According to the NHS, Bowen’s disease usually appears as a patch on the skin that has clear edges and does not heal.
More than one patch can occur and they may be:
- scaly or crusty
- flat or raised
- up to a few centimetres across
- itchy (but not all the time)
- red or pink on white skin, but this may be harder to see on brown and black skin
If the patch bleeds, starts to turn into an open sore (ulcer) or develops a lump, it could be a sign it’s turned into squamous cell skin cancer.
Anyone with patches of red, scaly skin that won’t heal should seek medical advice. As Bowen’s disease can be mistaken for other conditions, an official diagnosis is important.
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