Foot melanoma is a type of cancer which affects the skin cells of the feet. It can occur anywhere on the feet or ankles – including the soles of the feet and under a toenail.
If detected in the early stages, foot cancer can be treated effectively. However, in most cases, signs and symptoms go unnoticed or are ignored which causes diagnosis to happen at a later stage.
The risk potential is higher at a later stage – if the cancer spreads then it can become life-threatening.
Which is why it is important to check your feet for signs or symptoms of foot cancer on a regular basis.
7 Potential Symptoms of Foot Cancer
If a mole, patch, or bump on the skin displays the following signs or symptoms, it should be checked immediately.
- The color is different from the rest of your skin.
- It bleeds or it oozes fluid.
- It feels tender, is itchy, or is painful.
- It continues to grow and deteriorate even after treatment.
- It takes more than two months to heal.
- Pigmentation or redness starts spreading beyond the border of the lesion to the surrounding skin.
- The skin outside the border of the lesion or ulcer starts swelling.
The ABCD’s of Melanoma
- Asymmetry – the lesion splits in half and the two halves don’t match.
- Borders – the borders are uneven or ragged and not clearly defined.
- Color – there is no color uniformity.
- Diameter – the lesion width is more than 6 mm or the size of a pencil eraser.
If you suspect foot cancer based on any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, consult with a professional podiatrist as soon as possible.
Diagnosing Foot and Ankle Cancers
Cancers of the foot and ankle are diagnosed via detailed examination of the area. In most cases, this involves skin biopsies as well as imaging tests such as an MRI scan among other scans.
These tests can help detect if the cells are cancerous and to identify the type of cancer and the rate at which it is growing. The doctor will also inquire in length about family history of skin cancer. If foot melanoma is suspected, the patient is then referred to a dermatologist for treating melanoma.
How Is Foot Cancer Treated?
If melanoma is detected in the early stages, surgery is usually the main treatment option. The melanoma is surgically removed, and the patient does not have to suffer through any aesthetic or functional impairment.
If the cancer returns or has spread, then treatment may involve immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
How to Reduce the Risk of Foot Melanoma?
Protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV radiation since it can increase the risk of melanoma. Try and avoid sun exposure during peak hours between 10 am – 4 pm.
If you cannot avoid the sun, then protect your skin by using sunscreen lotion on areas of the skin that are not covered by your clothing. Use wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to beat the sun’s rays.
Shoes and socks can help protect your feet. Keep in mind that even though the soles of the feet are rarely exposed to the sun, foot melanoma can appear on the soles as well. So, try and avoid going barefoot or using footwear which offers little protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
Inspect your Feet and Ankle Regularly
- Check the skin, nails, and the toes, including the soles of the feet for unusual appearances.
- Check for changes in the size, shape, and appearance of moles, patches, or bumps regularly.
- Monitor new moles for changes in appearance.
- If you paint your nails regularly, make it a practice to check the skin under your toenails when changing the nail polish.
If you notice any of the signs highlighted in this article pertaining to foot cancer, if you are experiencing foot and ankle pain, or if you notice other signs or symptoms that appear suspicious in any way, consult with a professional podiatrist. Let them do their job.
Don’t forget, foot cancer can be treated if it is diagnosed early.
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