Did you know that, like the rest of your body, you can develop skin cancer on feet? It’s true, and yet, unfortunately, most of us forget to apply sunscreen to the delicate skin in the area, leaving them vulnerable to burns and damage from the sun’s harmful rays. Want to know what’s even more frightening? When you develop cancer on your foot’s skin, you may not experience pain of any kind. And that could mean catching your cancer later in its progression, making treatment more complicated.
Now, here in Long Island, we’re smack in the middle of winter. So why are we talking about skin cancer right now? Here’s the deal: February 4th marks World Cancer Day, devoted to building a future without cancer. And, to help make that dream a reality, we’re here to share important tips for preventing and detecting skin cancer on your feet, to help you stay healthy and disease free now and for years to come!
Viral Skin Cancer on Feet: What it Looks Like
When you develop skin cancer on your feet that’s caused by a virus, it often looks different than other skin cancers. And that’s because, while some of these cancers are caused by sun exposure, the majority of cases actually result from a virus, and are just as likely to develop on the bottom of your feet as on the top.
So, if you’re concerned about cancerous spots on your feet, what should you be looking for? Here are some of the symptoms of skin cancer on your feet:
• Cracks in the skin that feely itchy or start to bleed. (This symptom is confusing, because it could just mean you have dry skin. But it could also mean you have advanced skin cancer. So it’s important to come into our Massapequa podiatry practice if you notice any cracks in your foot skin.)
• Sores that don’t heal. (Again, this symptom could be caused by another health concern—diabetic foot complications. But regardless of the cause, non-healing foot wounds need immediate medical attention.)
• Bumps on the feet that crack or bleed
• Nodules that develop scaly patches or are outlined with rolling edges
Symptoms of Basal Cell Cancer Caused by Sun Exposure
While more rare, you can still basal cell cancer—the most common form of cancer caused by sun exposure—on your feet. And the symptoms will look very different from the ones we’ve just described. What are the basal cell cancer symptoms to watch for?
You may develop:
• Pearly white bumps on the feet.
• Crusty, oozing skin patches
Luckily, when detected early, basal cell cancers have high treatment success rates. So it’s important to check your feet regularly, and come see us if you notice any changes to the appearance of your foot skin.
Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma on the Feet
The final form of skin cancer on feet that you must watch for is squamous cell carcinoma, a common and extremely aggressive form of the disease. Unfortunately, squamous cell carcinoma is hard to detect. Its main symptom is small bumps on your feet. And the bumps often have a scaly texture. However, because eczema causes similar symptoms, as do fungal infections and plantar warts, many patients dismiss these changes to their skin surface. Or try to treat them with over-the-counter remedies.
Why is that such a big problem? Well, squamous cell cancers are more likely to spread than some other forms of skin cancer on feet. And, if that happens, the cancer can be difficult to treat, and could even prove to be fatal.
Malignant Melanoma on Feet
While a squamous cell carcinoma is best treated with early detection, it’s crucial to detect a malignant melanoma on your feet when it’s still in the first stage of development. But that’s not always easy to do.
You see, you can develop melanomas anywhere on your feet, even beneath the surface of your nails. And if that happens, the growth could push through your skin and enter the bloodstream, circulating throughout your body and causing leaving more cancer in its wake. For that reason, we must detect a melanoma before it has a chance to spread and threaten your life.
What are the early warning signs of a malignant melanoma on the foot?
• A small bump or spot that’s small in size
• A small pink or red bump or spot that may look like a mole (30% of melanomas are pink or red in color)
• Mole-like spots with asymmetrical shapes or irregular borders.
• Spots on your skin that change color over time
• Skin spots or bumps that become larger than six millimeters in diameter.
Once again, we know that many of these symptoms mimic other skin conditions, many of which may not be any cause for concern. However, because a melanoma can quickly develop into a life threatening condition, you should immediately schedule an appointment with Dr. Novneet Chhabra or Dr. Mark Gasparini if you see any suspicious changes to your skin. In the office, we can determine the difference between a mole and a cancerous growth. And, if it’s the latter, we can quickly begin your treatment plan.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to diagnose skin cancer, we will need to perform a skin biopsy, taking a small sample from the skin on your foot and sending it to a lab to detect any cancerous cells. If cancer is detected, the lab pathologist will determine the type of cancer you’re dealing with, so we can craft a tailored treatment plan.
Luckily, with early detection, skin cancer on feet is very treatable, and rarely leads to fatal complications. However, we need you to partner with our podiatrists in Long Island in order to help with detection. So do us a favor. Today—and regularly, for the rest of your lives—review the skin cancer symptoms we’ve highlighted. Take a look at the pictures we’ve shared with this blog. Then, look at your feet and carefully check for any changes that could be cancerous. And, if in doubt about any worrisome growths or skin changes, click here to schedule an immediate appointment in the office.