Learn About Skin Cancers Of The Feet And How A Podiatrist Can Help Diagnose And Treat Them.
The primary cause of skin cancer is sun exposure, so the condition frequently affects parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. However, skin cancers can develop anywhere on the body, including the feet. Skin cancers that affect the feet are typically related to chronic inflammation or irritation, chemical exposure, viruses, or hereditary factors.
Skin cancers of the feet are frequently discovered when patients suffer from an unrelated condition near the affected site. Skin cancers of the feet share many characteristics. They are usually painless and have a history of cracking, ulceration, and bleeding. Some take the form of cysts and lesions, while others are more widespread in nature. Unfortunately, the feet are often overlooked during routine medical exams.
Seattle podiatrists are trained to detect skin cancers in the lower extremity, which often look different from skin cancers that affect the rest of the body. Podiatrists play a crucial role in the early detection of benign and malignant skin tumors on the feet. Podiatrists check the lower legs and feet for abnormalities and perform clinical examinations and skin biopsies to investigate whether there is skin cancer. A skin biopsy involves taking a small sample of the skin lesion and having a pathologist examine it in a laboratory. If it is determined that the lesion is cancerous, your podiatrist will recommend a course of treatment.
Common Skin Cancers of the Feet
Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma tends to affect sun-exposed skin, so it isn’t commonly found on the feet. It is one of the least aggressive cancers of the body. Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads beyond the skin, though it typically causes local damage. Basal cell cancers may look like white bumps or patches that crust or ooze like open sores. They often look non-cancerous on the skin of the feet.
Malignant Melanoma: Although malignant melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancers, it causes over 60% of skin cancer deaths. The good news is that malignant melanoma is highly curable if it is caught early. Malignant melanoma typically occurs on the skin of the soles and tops of the feet but it can also occur beneath a toenail. It usually begins as a small black/brown bump or spot, but sometimes it looks pink or red. Although they look like common moles at first glance, these tumors usually have alterations in color, asymmetry, and irregular borders when you look more closely.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer of the feet. Although most squamous cell carcinoma is confined to the skin, it can become aggressive and spread at advanced stages. It typically begins as a callus-like lesion and may look like eczema, a fungal infection, or a plantar wart. Although squamous cell carcinoma is painless, it may be itchy, crack, or bleed.
Preventing Skin Cancers of the Feet
The steps you need to take to prevent cancers of the feet are the same as those that prevent cancers affecting other parts of the body. Keep sun exposure to a minimum. If you go outdoors with your feet and ankles exposed, be sure to apply sunscreen. Podiatrists recommend performing routine self-examinations of the feet to find skin cancer early, when it is still easy to cure.
Unfortunately, approximately half of all people who have malignant melanoma of the feet die within five years because the cancer has already spread throughout the body by the time it is diagnosed. The areas most commonly affected by foot melanomas include the soles, between the toes, and under or around the toenails.
Visit A Seattle Podiatrist To Have Your Feet Checked For Abnormalities
If you notice any suspicious moles, freckles, or other spots on your feet or ankles, contact the Seattle podiatrists at Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington immediately. Call (425) 678-3877 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.