Skin Cancers of the Feet
What are Skin Cancers of the Feet?
Skin cancers of the feet, although rare, can sometimes be deadly depending on the type. As skin cancer is often discovered after diagnosis of unrelated foot ailments, regular checkups with your podiatrist can help in the early detection of skin cancer on your feet.
The three common types of skin cancers of the feet include:
- Basal cell carcinoma—the most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer that is slow-growing. It occurs less frequently on the feet, but if left untreated, can affect surrounding bone, nerves, and muscle.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)—studies show that squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer of the feet. Approximately 13% of all skin cancers in the legs are SCC. Patients with SCC develop red, scaly skin
- bumps that grow slowly. If left untreated, they can become aggressive but rarely metastasizes. Chronic exposure to the sun is one of the main causes of squamous cell carcinoma of the feet
Melanoma—one of the rarest forms of cancer, but most aggressive when it affects the lower extremities, including the feet. Melanomas can occur under the toenail, on top of the feet, as well as on the soles. Melanomas are responsible for approximately 79% of all skin cancer-related deaths, and if left untreated, can spread into the bloodstream and lymph nodes. Melanomas resemble brown or black spots or blood blisters but are irregular in size, shape, and color.
What Are the Causes of Skin Cancers of the Feet?
Exposure to the sun is one of the major causes of skin cancers of the feet. But, some patients also experience skin cancer due to their:
- diet and lifestyle choices, such as smoking
- fairer skin tone (however, this is not the case for melanoma of the feet, which affects African Americans, Asian Americans, and other people of color (PoC) more frequently)
- immunocompromised patients
- exposure to chemicals such as coal and arsenic
What Are the Symptoms of Skin Cancers of the Feet?
Symptoms of skin cancers of the feet depending on the type of skin cancer in question. They can include:
- pink raised bumps that feel waxy and bleed easily on injury
- sunken in the center with blood vessels on its surface
- pink pearly tumors
- rough skin lesions that are scaly and raised
- red bumps that turn into sores if left untreated
- black or brown skin lesions with irregular symmetry and coloring
What to Expect During Treatment for Skin Cancers of the Feet at the Podiatrist
Your podiatric physician is properly trained in diagnosing the different types of skin cancers of the feet and will know what symptoms to look out for during foot exams. If you are predisposed to skin cancer or fit any of the risk factors, regular checkups of your feet with your podiatrist can help early detection of benign and malignant carcinomas.
Malignant forms of cancer, especially melanomas of the feet, are deadly if undetected and untreated. Visit your podiatrist if you find the following ABCDEs of melanomas during a regular foot exam:
- A - Asymmetrically shaped lesions
- B - Borders that are irregular in shape
- C - Colors that are of multiple hues such as black, brown, tan
- D - Diameter of your mole is greater than 6 millimeters in diameter
- E - Evolution of your moles
Your medical history, diet and lifestyle, are also taken into consideration by your podiatrist during a diagnosis for skin cancer of the feet. A foot exam, followed by a skin biopsy of any lesions detected, is also a part of the diagnosis. Treatment will depend on the results and can include:
- surgery to remove the malignant tumor
- cryosurgery - for superficial cancers on your feet
- radiation and/or chemotherapy
- immunotherapy treatment