When people usually think about cancers, there are various other body parts that come to mind before the feet. Lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer may have prominent exposure, but foot melanoma is a serious matter.
What is Foot Melanoma?
When diagnosed and treated early, it is a treatable form of cancer that begins in melanocytes, which are found in skin tissue. The key issue is that it has to be treated at the earliest possible stage, which makes detection essential.
What Causes Melanoma on the Foot?
Typically, skin cancer is associated with harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, especially that comes from the sun. Studies consistently show that intense, irregular exposure to sunlight leads to an increased risk of developing this skin cancer. There are other causes as well, like chronic inflammation, exposure to carcinogenic materials, and even simply inherited traits.
What Are the Symptoms of Melanoma?
The initial sign of this condition is typically a change in shape, color, feel, or size of an existing mole. Additionally, unusual blemishes, lumps, markings, or sores on the surface of the skin are worth investigating. It is important to know that most people have moles, the majority of which are harmless.
When observing a mole, it should raise a flag if you note a blue-black area. Other mole traits to be aware of can be linked to the acronym ABCDE and include:
- Asymmetry – Half of the mole or lesion is not a mirror image of the other half.
- Border – Moles that have blurred, ragged, or irregular borders are cause for concern.
- Color – Multiple colors within the same mole is a potential sign.
- Diameter – When the diameter of a mole is greater than the size of a pencil-tip eraser (5mm), have it checked out.
- Evolving – A mole that changes color, shape, or size should definitely be investigated.
Other warning signs include sores that do not heal, new swelling or redness beyond a mole’s border, changes in the surface (oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a nodule or bump).
These moles can be located anywhere on the foot, but are most commonly found on the sole or under a toenail. For this reason, it is important to make an appointment when you notice a case of black toenails. It might be just blood pooled under the nail and not a major issue, but it could potentially be a rare case of malignant melanoma.
A biopsy is standard procedure for diagnosing this type of cancer in the feet. There are various types of biopsies, including skin samples, shaving, punch, and incisional and excisional biopsies. A punch biopsy uses a tool similar to a cookie cutter to press down and retrieve a sample of all the skin layers. Incisional and excisional biopsies are used to remove an entire tumor.
Can Foot Melanoma be Treated and Prevented?
This cancer can be treated and prevented, but it is important to remember that early detection is vital for the success of treatment. The primary method of caring for the condition is surgery to remove cancerous tumors. At this time, this is considered to be effective for early-stage melanomas, but those in more advanced stages may require immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or other methods.
Preventing skin cancer from developing in the first place is the best practice. Tips to help with this include:
- Cover your feet from harsh UV light with water shoes or socks and regular shoes. Sandals do not offer the same level of protection.
- Wear sunscreen, even on your feet! Apply to the entire foot and not just the top.
- Inspect your feet on a daily basis, taking note of any moles so you can be aware if they change in color, size, or shape.
Total Foot Care in Richardson, TX
Here at Richardson Podiatry Associates, we care about our patients’ entire health. Cancer is a serious matter and we want you to be able to get the treatment you need at the earliest possible time. Contact us if you find any suspicious looking moles on your feet and we can biopsy them for you. Just call our Richardson, TX office at (972) 690-5374 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.