By Dr. Justin Hooker
What Are Skin Cancers of the Feet?
Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, including the feet. Common symptoms can include color changes, skin cracking, bleeding, abnormal masses or spots. The most common cause of skin cancer on the foot and ankle is sun exposure. However; viruses, chemicals exposures, genetic traits and other conditions can also lead to foot and ankle skin cancers.
Often; skin cancers on the foot and ankle are discovered during a physical examination of the foot and ankle, for an unrelated condition. Recently, a patient was seen at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle complaining of ankle pain. During the patient’s physical examination, I discovered a suspicious lesion on the inside of her foot. It was about the size of a dime with irregular borders and diffuse dark patterns.
I discussed my suspicion of the lesion to be cancerous with the patient and she agreed to a biopsy. Two Days later, the pathology report confirmed my suspicion of melanoma and determined the melanoma to be invasive. As such; the patient was scheduled for surgery to remove the cancer.
During surgery, the melanoma and surrounding margins were removed. The tissue was sent to pathology to confirm that the depth and all margins were clear of melanoma. The patient has now fully recovered and is cancer free. The patient is advised to continue to check their feet regularly for suspicious lesions and to see me every 6 months.
How to prevent skin cancer on the feet:
- Protect your feet from sun exposure. Applying sunscreen on your feet is just as important as anywhere else on your body to avoid skin cancers.
- Check for unusual lesions: It’s important to check your feet regularly for any suspicious lesions, masses or other changes to your skin. Any lesion or mole that changes in color, size or appearance should be checked by a physician immediately (even if changing slowly). If you have a prior history of skin cancer (anywhere), you should also have your feet checked for additional lesions.
- Learn the ABCD’s of Melanoma. If you notice a mole, bump, or patch on the skin that meets any of the following criteria, see a podiatrist immediately:
- Asymmetry – If the lesion is divided in half, the sides don’t match.
- Borders – Borders look scalloped, uneven, or ragged.
- Color – There may be more than one color. These colors may have an uneven distribution.
- Diameter – The lesion is wider than a pencil eraser (greater than 6 mm).
Other types of skin cancer can involve spontaneous ulcers, non-healing sores, bumps that crack or bleed, nodules with rolled or “donut-shaped” edges, or areas of scaling skin.
If you have concerns about foot or ankle lesions, moles or constant pain; make an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist as soon as possible. The health of your foot can impact your entire body and the sooner cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat.
About Dr. Hooker: Dr. Hooker enjoys all aspects of podiatric medicine and surgery including sports medicine, reconstructive surgery, trauma and wound care. He completed a three-year podiatric medical and surgical residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona and was trained at a Level 1 Trauma Center and the nationally-renowned Arizona Burn Center.