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A Letter From Darier to Bowen on the Naming of Bowen's Disease

Jeffrey D. Bernhard, MD; Anne D. Elliot
Arch Dermatol. 1983;119(3):261-262. doi:10.1001/archderm.1983.01650270079021.
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John T. Bowen described the disease that later came to bear his name in 1912.1 At the time, he was the first Edward Wigglesworth Professor of Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, having succeeded James C. White.2 He was 54 years old. Bowen reported two cases and gave the disease a descriptive title "chronic atypical epithelial proliferation."

Bowen's name was applied to this disease at the suggestion of Jean Darier, who was head of a service at l'Hôpital St Louis in Paris.3 Darier had previously described keratosis follicularis, subsequently known as Darier's disease or Darier-White disease, in 1889.4 In June 1914, Darier wrote to Bowen about his experience with two patients he recognized as having the condition described by Bowen, and gingerly suggested that Bowen's name be attached to the disease. With his letter, he sent a photograph of one of his patients


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