By now, most people are aware of the impact that the sun’s UV rays have on skin. Avoiding exposing your skin to harmful rays and applying sunscreen can help reduce your risk of skin cancer. When it comes to skin cancer of the feet, which are often protected from the sun by socks and shoes, there are other causes to consider. Chronic inflammation or irritation, inherited traits, viruses, and exposure to harmful chemicals are other possible causes of skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are many different types of skin cancer that can affect feet. Being aware of the various types may be able to help you identify and seek treatment before the situation advances.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
As the most common form of foot skin cancer, most cases caught early will not spread beyond the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a small scaly bump or plaque, or a callus-like lesion. It is rarely painful but often itchy and could be mistaken for a wart, fungal infection, eczema, or another common foot condition by a non-professional observer.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This type of cancer is most often seen on skin that’s been exposed to excessive sunlight. It is not an especially aggressive form of cancer and is not known to spread. Basal cell carcinoma can appear as small white bumps or patches. These patches may ooze or crust, looking like an open sore, and could be confused with a benign ulcer or non-cancerous skin tumor.
One of the deadliest skin cancers, malignant melanoma is unlikely to be treated by surgical means, with a host of experimental treatments providing alternatives to surgery. Early detection is key to surviving this type of cancer. Melanomas may be found on the top or bottom of the foot and occasionally beneath a toenail. The appearance of this type of skin cancer is highly variable; in some cases, a brown-black spot or bump will appear, in others the color may be pink or red. Other examples resemble benign moles, ingrown nails, warts, blood blisters, ulcers, or bruises.
When Should I See a Podiatrist?
Because it’s so easy for the various types of skin cancer to be mistaken for other, less serious conditions, and the consequences of a misdiagnosis can be severe, it’s important to seek professional help. A podiatrist can conduct a thorough exam to assess the symmetry, evenness of color, border shape, and size of the spot(s) in question. If they determine the area could be cancerous, a skin biopsy may be performed.
Here at Alpine Foot Specialists, we take our role in cancer detection and treatment very seriously. When patients call on us to assess their condition, we respond with agility, compassion, and comprehensive podiatric care. If you are concerned about a suspect spot or areas on your feet, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for an appointment.