Your feet, unfortunately, are not immune to the dangers of skin cancer. While the face, hands, and shoulders might be more common targets, your feet can receive plenty of damaging sun exposure too, especially if you’re regularly going barefoot or wearing sandals and neglect your sunscreen.
Because many skin cancers can mimic other, more benign conditions—and also because most people don’t check their feet as closely or regularly as they should—skin cancers of the feet can go undetected for long periods of time. In the case of malignant melanoma in particular, this delay can unfortunately be very damaging, even deadly—the 5-year survival rate after diagnosis is just 50%.
Common Skin Cancers
The most common skin cancers that appear on the feet include:
- Basal cell carcinoma is the single most common type of skin cancer, and fortunately is rarely fatal due to its relatively slow rate of development. It typically appears in spots exposed to sun, and may appear as a red spot, sore, or smooth-looking raised bump. Surgery or radiation treatment is usually effective.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is a medium-aggressive skin cancer that also affects sun-exposed areas and may spread to other areas of the body. It may resemble red, scaly bumps or patches of skin, or even a bleeding ulcer. Because it may be mistaken for other conditions such as warts or eczema, it’s important to have Dr. Danciger investigate any unusual symptoms or conditions that don’t seem to be healing.
- Malignant melanoma is by far the most dangerous skin cancer. This is both because it can easily go unnoticed or unrecognized, and because it can quickly spread to other parts of the body. It may start out as a tiny spot or bump, and may resemble a mole, blood blister, wart, ingrown nail, or bruise. Although sun exposure can be a factor, malignant melanoma can have other causes. It can also appear under a toenail, on the soles of your feet (where it’s known as plantar melanoma), or other unexpected placed.
Prevention and Detection
It’s important to always protect your skin, including your feet, from too much sun exposure. If you’re going to be outside, either cover your feet with closed shoes or apply sunscreen. Just because your feet are low to the ground doesn’t mean the sun’s rays won’t damage them as much as your face or shoulders!
Check your skin, including your feet, regularly for signs of cancer. Remembering the acronym ABCDE can be very helpful in determining whether a particular spot or lesion is likely to be cancerous:
- Asymmetry: Irregular shapes are more suspicious.
- Border: The edges of a cancerous spot are more likely to be blurry or ill-defined.
- Color: Varying shades are more concerning than solid colors.
- Diameter: In general, the bigger the spot, the greater the concern, especially above 6mm.
- Evolution: Lesions that have changed shape, size, or color over time are at greater risk.
Treating Skin Cancer
If you suspect skin cancer on your feet, please seek help from Dr. Danciger immediately. With all cancers—especially aggressive ones like melanoma—early detection and treatment is crucial in order to ensure the easiest treatment and best outcomes. It could very well save your life.
Certain skin cancers can be treated in our office via surgery. In other cases we may need to provide a referral to another specialist. Whatever the situation, you can rest assured knowing Dr. Danciger has the training and experience to facilitate an accurate diagnosis and quick, appropriate treatment. To schedule an appointment at our Palm Desert, CA office, please fill out our contact form online or call us at 760-568-0108.