• Clinical science

Precancerous skin lesions


Precancerous skin lesions refer to various dermatological growths that are at an increased risk of developing into skin cancer. Typical precancerous skin lesions include lentigo maligna, which may develop into malignant melanoma, and actinic keratosis, which may develop into squamous cell carcinoma. There is also a risk of leukoplakia – presenting in the oral cavity as white plaques – progressing to squamous cell carcinoma. Bowen disease and erythroplasia of Queyrat are less common types of precancerous skin lesions and are often associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). To prevent malignant transformation, surgical excision is usually the treatment of choice.

Lentigo maligna (LM)


Actinic keratosis (AK)




Bowen disease and Erythroplasia of Queyrat

Although Bowen disease affects the skin and erythroplasia of Queyrat affects the mucous membrane, the precancerous lesions are histopathologically identical.

Bowen disease

Erythroplasia of Queyrat (Bowen disease of the glans penis)

  • Definition: squamous cell carcinoma in situ (SCCIS) of the penile mucosa
  • Etiology: not very well understood yet, but is associated with:
    • Chronic irritation or infection
    • Lack of circumcision
    • HPV types 16 and 18
  • Lesion: : single or multiple sharply demarcated, nonhealing lesions; (e.g., plaques or red papules; ) that may ulcerate and bleed easily
  • Most common site: preputium, glans penis
  • Prognosis and treatment: see Bowen disease


Bowenoid papulosis

  • 1. Tan WW. Lentigo Maligna Melanoma. In: James WD. Lentigo Maligna Melanoma. New York, NY: WebMD. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/279839-overview#a1. Updated April 1, 2016. Accessed December 31, 2016.
  • 2. Spencer JM. Actinic Keratosis. In: James WD. Actinic Keratosis. New York, NY: WebMD. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1099775-overview. Updated April 7, 2016. Accessed December 31, 2016.
  • 3. Werner RN, Stockfleth E, Conolly SM et al. . Evidence- and consensus-based (S3) Guidelines for the Treatment of Actinic Keratosis – International League of Dermatological Societies in cooperation with the European Dermatology Forum. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2015; 29: pp. 2069–2079. doi: 10.1111/jdv.13180.
  • 4. James WD, Berger T, Elston D. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences; 2015.
  • 5. Bishop JA. Leukoplakia and Erythroplakia - Premalignant Squamous Lesions of the Oral Cavity . In: Anton R. Leukoplakia and Erythroplakia - Premalignant Squamous Lesions of the Oral Cavity . New York, NY: WebMD. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1840467-overview#a1. Updated January 13, 2014. Accessed December 31, 2016.
  • 6. Dyall-Smith D. Carcinoma in situ of oral cavity. http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/carcinoma-in-situ-of-oral-cavity/. Updated January 1, 2009. Accessed December 31, 2016.
  • 7. Kaldas MV. Bowen Disease. In: Elston DM. Bowen Disease. New York, NY: WebMD. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1100113-overview#showall. Updated September 30, 2016. Accessed December 31, 2016.
  • Shrivastava V. Erythroplasia of Queyrat (Bowen Disease of the Glans Penis). In: Elston DM. Erythroplasia of Queyrat (Bowen Disease of the Glans Penis). New York, NY: WebMD. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1100317-overview. Updated March 31, 2016. Accessed December 31, 2016.
last updated 09/03/2020
{{uncollapseSections(['ybbdwH', 'AvXRcZ0', '_vX5cZ0', 'xvXEXZ0', '9vXNXZ0', 'CvXqXZ0'])}}