While you might don your bikini or swim shorts to laze in the sun, splash around at the beach, or jet ski at Cherry Creek State Park, there’s another reason to go skimpy on the clothes. Once a month you should peel down to the skin and do a thorough body check for unusual spots. It’s the best way to identify skin cancer in the early stages and get treated before it gets out of hand—or foot. (Yes, you can get skin cancer on your feet too.)
Leave no spot unchecked—face, ears, backs of arms, under your breasts—but pay special attention to your feet, because they are farthest from your eyes and often forgotten. How do you know what you are looking for? Here are some tips:
- Basal cell carcinoma will start as a small, pearly-white bump, or a flat scar-like patch of brown or flesh-toned skin.
- Squamous cell carcinoma will appear as a firm red bump or a flat, red area with crusty scales. Later, it could crack and bleed.
- Melanoma (the most dangerous kind) could be a brown spot with dark speckles or a mole that changes or bleeds. Dark lesions could appear on your soles, toes, or areas usually covered by your underwear, among others. This type could also appear as a small spot with irregular borders and patriotic colors of red, white and blue (or bluish-black).
You could also think about the ABCDEs of skin cancer: look for spots that are Asymmetrical, have Borders that are irregular, Colors that vary within the same spot, and Diameters over ¼ inch, or Evolve in appearance from one monthly check to the next.
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are easily treated, but melanoma needs to be treated in the early stages for a good prognosis. Whenever you notice suspicious spots on your skin, take a picture or jot down notes and then call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in the west Denver area at (303) 423-2520 right away. You can do the original footwork (pardon the pun), but sometimes you need a professional to determine whether the lesion on your foot is a problem or not. It is best to take action quickly rather than wait and have it develop into something serious, and our expert podiatrists are here to help you at our Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, and Granby, CO offices.