Skin Cancer and Your Feet

Most people do not equate skin cancer with the feet.  Most people think that skin cancer occurs on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. This is not true when it comes to the feet. Cancers of the skin on the feet are most often related to viruses, exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation or irritation, or inherited traits.

Most of the skin cancers of the feet have some common features. Many of them are painless. People relate a history of bleeding, cracking or ulceration to the area as another sign.

Avoiding Skin Cancer on the FeetA Basal Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is very often seen on sun-exposed parts of the foot. The tops of the feet can be sites of this type of cancer, especially in warmer climates where people wear sandals, flip flops and have their feet exposed to the sun’s rays. This type of cancer is one of the least aggressive types. There are many different ways this cancer can appear, and they often look like non-cancerous types of lesions or ulcers.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer on the feet, usually does not spread. The cancer is typically confined to the skin. This type usually starts as a plaque or a small bump which has scales. It may look like the area is inflamed. Often they are painless, but you may notice they itch. They can be confused with a plantar wart, fungus, ulcer as well as other skin problems.

Malignant Melanoma can be deadly. Nonsurgical treatments are not typically effective. Due to this being one of the deadliest types of skin cancers, early detection is important to help with patient survival. These types of cancerous lesions can occur on both the top and bottoms of the feet as well as under a toenail. There are many different appearances to this cancer, however they usually will demonstrate irregular borders, asymmetry, different colors and are usually larger than 6 mm in diameter.

If you notice a spot on your foot that doesn't look right to you, call and visit your Podiatrist. We will perform a biopsy and based on the results of that biopsy, determine the necessary treatment. You may need to be referred you to an oncologist if necessary. Watch your feet for suspicious spots that could be cancer. If caught early, you may be able to save your foot--and even your life.

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Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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