May was skin cancer awareness month. After seeing the campaign all month, I noticed that there was one part of the body that was left out of the discussion. Most of the information was focused on the sun exposed areas of body which are highly susceptible to skin cancer. This is because 90% of non-melanoma cancers are caused by sun exposure but the sun is not the only cause. Our feet are affected by skin cancer and many are not caused by sun exposure. These skin cancers of the foot and ankle are usually diagnosed later in their development due to the general lack attention we give our feet. It is also true that there is a general lack of skin cancer screening done by physicians that includes the foot. The sun is the major contributor to skin cancers but in the feet, most skin cancers are related to viruses, irritation and chronic ulcers. Most skin cancers in the feet are painless and are often over looked. There are 3 basic types of skin cancer. Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is a type of skin cancer that is seen more.
There are 3 basic types of skin cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is a type of skin cancer that is seen more in sun-exposed areas of the body. The feet are much less affected by this type of skin cancer because of the decreased sun exposure compared to other parts of the body. It is usually less aggressive and usually only causes locate damage to the skin and very rarely will spread to other parts of the body. This type of cancer typically looks like and open sore that crusts over and then opens again, never really healing up. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese Asians and the Japanese. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common form of skin cancer that affects the foot. In its early
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common form of skin cancer that affects the foot. In its early stages it also tends to stay in the skin and locate but more advanced cases can spread to the rest of the body and become more aggressive. Usually this form of cancer is painless but may be itchy. Squamous cell cancer may resemble a plantar wart, a fungal infection, eczema, an ulcer, or other common skin conditions of the foot. It is often misdiagnosed or delayed in it diagnosis because of this fact. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer among blacks and Asian Indians Malignant Melanoma: Malignant melanoma is one the deadliest skin cancer. It accounts for less than 1% of all skin cancers but accounts for the vast majority of deaths from skin cancer. The lower limb including the feet
Malignant Melanoma: Malignant melanoma is one the deadliest skin cancer. It accounts for less than 1% of all skin cancers but accounts for the vast majority of deaths from skin cancer. The lower limb including the feet are the primary site for 30% of all skin melanomas. This type of cancer in aggressive and invades into other parts of the body quickly. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment. The classic lesion is dark with a notch around the border. We often tell people to learn the ABCD’s of melanoma in order to help with diagnosing suspicious lesion.
Melanoma is often referred to as “The Great Masquerader.” It can appear like almost any other lesion and this can lead to misdiagnoses and delayed treatment. With melanoma, early detection and treatment are necessary. Whites are affected with melanoma at a rate five times higher than other ethnic groups. Melanomas in blacks, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and native Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60-75 percent of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions. These lesions are harder to diagnose due to their “abnormal” appearance and are thus more dangerous because of the delayed treatment.
To help prevent skin cancer of the feet, you should follow the advice for skin cancer in general. Protection from the sun is a must. Clothing or sunscreen should be applied to both the top of the foot and the sole of the foot. Sunburns can occur in any skin. Carefully inspect your feet including the sole of the foot, around and under the nails and in-between the toes. If you wear nail polish most of the time remove it occasionally so that you can do this inspection. If you see any spot on the skin that might fit the above ABCD’s, you have an area that just not seem to total heal up, or you recognize something new on your feet then have a podiatrist or dermatologist look at the lesion. As stated above the greatest problem with skin cancer of the foot and ankle is that it goes unrecognized for extended periods of time because most people don’t consider the foot can get skin cancer. The pictures below are classic presentations of the three types of skin cancer. Each type can look significantly different from the picture below. This is especially true with the most dangerous one Malignant Melanoma.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your foot and ankle health or you are suffering from foot and/or ankle pain. You can view our websites www.ahicarealliance.com and www.ahinstitute.com for additional information and for further blog entries. Our videos may also be viewed on YouTube regarding your feet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Again please contact me if you have any questions.
Dr. Dirk, The Foot Guy