by Matthew H. Paden, DPM
It could be because they are so far away from our eyes that we don’t think about them much, but feet are just as susceptible to disease and infirmity as any other part of our bodies. Arguably, they could be even more so because of all the pressure they bear day in and day out from our weight. While you may not think about cancer in your foot, it is certainly a possibility.
Most often the condition will affect the skin, although tumors and bone cancer can also occur. If you take care to use sunscreen on your feet—good for you. However, know that not all types of this disease are caused by sun exposure. They can occur because of viruses or exposure to toxic chemicals, and can also be the result of inflammation or inherited traits. Find out more about the different types of skin cancer below.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This type is more often related to sun exposure and we get a lot of that in Colorado. While it may not appear as quickly on the feet as your face, but is a risk nonetheless. It will present as small, shiny white patches, or look like a sore that oozes and crusts over. It grows slowly and doesn’t usually spread or metastasize to other tissues. Therefore it is easy to treat with either surgery or radiation and is rarely life threatening.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Like basal cell, these foot lesions normally appear on areas exposed to the sun, but unlike it, they can spread to other areas on your body. It may start as a small red patch with scales and resemble a fungal infection, eczema, or some other infection in the feet. It will get worse if not treated, and you may end up with larger red, scaly patches or ulcers that can crack and bleed.
This cancer in your foot is more aggressive and normally occurs as one of the following classifications:
- SSM—superficial spreading melanoma—is the most common (about 70% of all melanomas). It usually starts as a mole on the front of the lower legs or feet that begins to change. It spreads along the surface skin first, and then grows deeper into the layers underneath.
- ALM—acral lentiginous melanoma—occurs more often in dark-skinned populations and on the sole of the foot or around the nails. It can also occur under the nail, which means you may mistake it for something else. It may look like a bruise, blood blister, or a brownish-black spot on your skin and have a streaky appearance. It also begins in the outer layers of the skin and gradually moves inward.
Other conditions can mimic melanoma, such as having several dark moles, or seborrheic keratosis lesions on the sole of your foot. That’s why it is so important to have an expert podiatrist like our staff at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center look at any skin irregularity on your feet.
Spots on Your Feet? Don’t Delay—Call Today
Catching cancer on the feet early is the best way to defeat it, so check your feet often and call us at the first sign of trouble. You can reach either our Golden or Wheat Ridge, CO, office with the same phone number – (303) 423-2520 – or simply request an appointment through our contact page. We want to help you keep your feet healthy and ready to serve you through the rest of your life.