Types Of Foot Melanoma
Not all foot melanomas are the same. If you have foot melanoma, a dermatologist can determine which of these types it is:
Superficial spreading melanoma. This is the most common type of melanoma. When it affects the foot, it typically appears on the top. The spot or growth may be raised or flat and usually has an irregular shape. It may be tan, brown, black, red, blue, white or a combination of any of these colors. It gets larger before it penetrates deeper skin layers.
Acral lentiginous melanoma. This can develop on the sole of the foot or in the toenail bed. When it affects the sole, it looks like a flat, black or brown discoloration that gets larger over time. It may resemble a bruise or stain. When it develops in the bed of the nail , it appears as dark vertical streaks. Subungual melanoma can cause cracks or breaks in the nail as it progresses.
Nodular melanoma. Nodular melanoma usually appears as a round bump or nodule. Its usually black but can also be blue, gray, red or white. It may even be the same color as your skin. It spreads quickly. While anyone can develop nodular melanoma, its more common in people with light skin and over the age of 65.
Even Your Feet Can Get Skin Cancer
Skin cancer in the lower extremity may have a very different appearance from those arising on the rest of the body. Podiatrists are uniquely trained as lower extremity specialists to recognize and treat abnormal conditions as they present themselves on the skin of the lower legs and feet.
Because of this, a podiatrists knowledge and clinical training is of extreme importance for patients in the early detection of both benign and malignant skin tumors. Some of the common attributes of cancerous lesions include:
- Asymmetry If divided in half, the sides will not match
- Borders They look scalloped, uneven or ragged
- Color They may have more than one color which may be unevenly distributed
- Diameter They can appear wider than a pencil eraser
For other types of skin cancer, look for spontaneous ulcers and non-healing sores, bumps that crack or bleed, nodules with rolled or donut shaped edges, or discrete scaly areas. If you notice a mole, bump or patch on the skin of a friend or family member that meets any of these criteria, encourage them to see a podiatrist immediately.
What are the Types of Skin Cancer of the Feet?
Skin cancers of the feet have several features in common with most being painless and a history of recurrent cracking, bleeding, or ulceration. Frequently individuals discover their skin cancer after unrelated ailments near the affected site. Some of the most common cancers of the lower extremity are:
Prevention is Key
Who Is More At Risk For Developing Foot Melanoma
Aside from UV ray exposure, melanoma tends to occur more often in people with certain risk factors. These include:
- having fair skin
- being sensitive to the sun
- having a history of at least one severe sunburn before the age of 18
- having preexisting moles on your feet
- having at least 50 moles throughout your body
- having a family history of melanoma or another type of skin cancer
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Check Every Part Of Your Feet For Signs Of Melanoma
Pay close attention to places on your feet that have been injured. Even if the injury was years ago, examine the area carefully.
Research has shown that a foot injury may increase your risk of developing melanoma. Bob Marley, a legendary reggae artist, developed melanoma on his foot. Its believed that the melanoma began where he had injured his foot while playing soccer. He later died of melanoma.
Cancers That Can Affect Your Feet
Cancerous lesions on the feet can look a lot like other benign skin problems. Since melanoma can spread quickly and be fatal, you should have all skin growths on your feet evaluated by your podiatrist. Its important to make sure that something that looks like a mole or blister isnt something more dangerous.
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Skin Cancer Of The Foot The Most Common Types
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Considered one of the least aggressive cancers, basal cell carcinoma is typically seen on sun-exposed areas of the body. If your feet rarely see the light of day, you probably wont see basal cell cancers on your feet. If you do see a pearly white bump or patches of bumps that ooze or crust just like open sores, you might have basal cell cancer. Since they often resemble non-cancerous skin tumors or benign ulcers, a proper examination by a Cincinnati podiatrist is recommended.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The most common form of skin cancer that affects the feet is the squamous cell carcinoma. Most types of early squamous cell carcinoma remain on the skin and do not spread, although some forms can become aggressive. Cancerous lesions of this type may look like plantar warts, fungal infections, eczema or the beginnings of calluses. In some cases, there is a history of the area cracking or bleeding. Squamous cell carcinoma is more often than not painless foot cancer, but its not to be ignored. See a podiatric physical immediately if you suspect that you have this disorder.
Malignant melanoma is known as The Great Masquerader due to its ability to resemble benign plantar warts, moles, ingrown nails, blood blisters or ulcers caused by poor circulation. They even resemble bruises in some cases.
If you suspect that you have melanoma or foot cancer in the Cincinnati area, The Center for Foot Care to schedule an appointment at 273-5119.
Can You Have Melanoma And Not Know It
How long can you have melanoma and not know it? It depends on the type of melanoma. For example, nodular melanoma grows rapidly over a matter of weeks, while a radial melanoma can slowly spread over the span of a decade. Like a cavity, a melanoma may grow for years before producing any significant symptoms.
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Foot Skin Cancer: Causes And Symptoms
While skin cancer on the top of your foot could be caused by sun exposure, thats not the most common trigger on your feet. Instead, most skin cancers of the feet are caused by viruses, chemical exposure, chronic inflammation or your genes.
Sadly, we often delay diagnosing foot skin cancer because you dont regularly look at your feet. To avoid that problem, its crucial to learn the signs and symptoms of all the varieties of foot skin cancer.
Basal Cell CarcinomaSun-exposure causes this cancer, but its less common on your feet. Its also a less aggressive cancer, but early detection is still important. Signs of basal cell cancer include pearly white bumps or patches that look like an open sore. On your feet or lower legs, this basal cell often looks like a small tumor or ulcer.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma This is the most common skin cancer of the foot. Squamous cell carcinoma begins as a small scaly bump that looks inflamed. Sometimes, it looks more like a . The spots arent usually painful, but they are itchy.
What Causes Skin Cancer Of The Feet
Unlike most other forms of skin cancer that result in an overexposure to sunlight, foot cancers are more often caused by viruses, chemical reactions, inflammation and constant irritation. Some people are genetically predisposed to the disease. No matter the cause and since feet are most commonly skipped during routine medical examinations, it is important that you check your feet regularly for abnormalities that might indicate one or more of the most common types of foot cancer listed below and contact a Cincinnati podiatrist if you detect anything.
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What Is Foot Cancer
There are many kinds of cancers of the foot some take the form of cysts and lesions, while others are more widespread.
Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer that is very curable if caught early. Although it makes up only 1 percent of skin cancers, malignant melanoma accounts for over 60 percent of skin cancer deaths. It is estimated that approximately 30% of melanomas occur in the lower extremities, and that 3% occur in the feet.
Neoplastic disorders, usually called tumors, are the result of abnormal growth of tissue and may be benign or malignant.
Osteochondromas are benign bone tumors under the toenail. They form in the bone beneath the toenail. An osteochondroma accounts for about half of all benign bone tumors, occurring mostly in children and young adults. Unless they cause irritation to the surrounding tissue, they are generally not very painful. Sometimes, they can deform the toenail and cause an ingrown toenail. In some cases, they are removed surgically, but can recur even after the procedure.
A plantar fibroma is a benign tissue tumor or growth on the plantar, or bottom surface of the foot. Unlike plantar warts, which grow on the skin, these grow deep inside on a thick fibrous band called the plantar fascia. When non-surgical measures for treating plantar fibromas, such as orthotics, have failed to provide adequate relief of symptoms, surgical removal is a reasonable option.
The Most Common Types Of Cancers On The Feet Include The Following:
- Malignant melanomaThis cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly. It is called The Great Masquerader because it can look like many other skin conditions including benign moles, blood blisters, plantar warts, and bruises. It can even grow under a toenail and on the soles of the feet, which makes careful and regular foot exams essential to catch it early enough.
- Basal Cell CarcinomaThis is a less aggressive cancer caused by UV light that can affect the feet. It usually causes only local damage and doesnt spread past the skin layers. The tumors can look like pearly white bumps and be crusty and oozing.
- Squamous Cell CarcinomaThis is actually the most common type of skin cancer on the feet. It is painless but may cause itching of the small, scaly bumps that often resemble eczema, fungal infection, or other common skin conditions of the feet.
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Skin Cancer Check Do Some Sole
Deadly melanoma is rare on feet, but often advanced when diagnosed
WEDNESDAY, June 15, 2016 — Sunlight is considered the leading cause of melanoma, but daily wear-and-tear appears to promote the deadly skin cancer in at least one place where the sun rarely shines, researchers say.
Stress and damage caused by walking or running could be a risk factor for melanoma on the soles of the feet, the Japanese researchers contended.
Worse, because people don’t think to check for melanoma on their soles, when the cancer is found it’s often very advanced, the investigators reported.
Cases of melanoma on the soles of the feet seem to occur in places that receive the most stress when people walk or run, said senior researcher Dr. Ryuhei Okuyama. He is a professor of dermatology at the Shinshu University School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan.
These places include the ball of the foot, the side of the foot’s arch, and especially the heel, the researchers said.
“Our clinical observation suggests that mechanical stress — such as plantar pressure and shear stress — is involved in the development of melanoma on the sole,” Okuyama said.
Melanoma occurs in the skin’s melanocytes, which are cells that produce brown pigment called melanin, according to the American Cancer Society .
Melanoma on the soles of the foot is even rarer than that, Okuyama said — about 2.2 cases for every million black people and about 2.4 cases for every million white people in the United States.
There Are Other Causes Of Foot Skin Cancer Including:
Environmental factors such as car exhaust and other pollutants and chemical burns
Viral infections like human papillomavirus or an immune deficiency such as HIV. These can lower your bodys ability to fight malignancies.
Genetics those with light eyes and fair skin have less melanin in the skin, a pigment that helps absorb harmful radiation.
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When To Visit A Podiatrist
Podiatrists are uniquely trained as lower extremity specialists to recognize and treat abnormal conditions on the skin of the lower legs and feet. Skin cancers affecting the feet may have a very different appearance from those arising on the rest of the body. For this reason, a podiatrist’s knowledge and clinical training is of extreme importance for patients for the early detection of both benign and malignant skin tumors.
Learn the ABCDs of melanoma. If you notice a mole, bump, or patch on the skin that meets any of the following criteria, see a podiatrist immediately:
- Asymmetry – If the lesion is divided in half, the sides don’t match.
- Borders – Borders look scalloped, uneven, or ragged.
- Color – There may be more than one color. These colors may have an uneven distribution.
- Diameter The lesion is wider than a pencil eraser .
To detect other types of skin cancer, look for spontaneous ulcers and non-healing sores, bumps that crack or bleed, nodules with rolled or donut-shaped edges, or scaly areas.
You Can Get Skin Cancer On Your Feet
Many people equate the chances of getting skin cancer with excessive sun exposure. Since your feet dont usually get much sun, you might think that you dont have to worry about getting skin cancer on your feet. However, this is a misconception. In fact, many advanced cases of skin cancer are found on the feet because they go unnoticed until the growths have spread.
One type of melanoma can grow under your toenails and on the soles of the feet. Have regular checkups with your foot doctor to help avoid these potentially deadly surprises.
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What To Look For
The signs are different depending on the type of foot melanoma, but be on the lookout for:
- A spot or growth that may be pinkish-red, brown, black, blue, white or some combination of these colors
- A new spot or growth that appears where you have injured your foot
- A sore that is slow to heal, does not heal or keeps coming back
- Pigment that spreads from a growth to the surrounding skin
- An open wound or sore that resembles a diabetic ulcer
- A dark vertical line under a toenail
Follow the ABCDE rule for evaluating skin spots and growths. Look for asymmetry , an irregular border and changes in size, shape or color. A melanoma of the foot may feel tender, itch, ooze, bleed or become scaly.
How Is Foot Melanoma Treated
Treatment options for foot melanoma depend on the stage of diagnosis, as well as your overall health. When caught early, your doctor may simply cut out the mole and any skin immediately surrounding it. This method is called an excision, and its performed in your dermatologists office.
Advanced cases of foot melanoma might require one or more of the following:
- chemotherapy a treatment that uses chemicals to kill the cancer cells in your body
- immunotherapy a type of treatment that stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells
- lymphadenectomy a type of surgery that removes affected lymph nodes
- radiation therapy a treatment that uses radiation to shrink tumors
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Some Of The Risk Factors For Developing Melanoma Include The Following:
- Hereditary influenceIf your close relatives have had skin cancer in the past, then you are more susceptible to developing the condition.
- Exposure to toxic chemicalsToxic chemical exposure from car and power plant emissions can alter the DNA in skin cells leading to malignant melanoma and other skin cancers.
- Immune system deficienciesHaving a compromised immune system due to infections from the human papillomavirus, HIV, etc., can decrease your bodys ability to fight off precancerous cells.
In the case of aggressive melanomas, you need to be very careful since the tumors tend to be small in size, but they can grow rapidly inward, where they reach lymph and blood vessels and can spread to other parts of your body.
If you are concerned about a growth on your foot, it is time to see your podiatrist. Call Syracuse Podiatry, located in East Syracuse, New York. Dr. Ryan L. DAmico and Dr. Donal M. Erickson and their staff will help diagnose and treat your foot or ankle condition. Call 315-446-3668 or make an appointment online today.
Look For The Signs Of Melanoma
When this skin cancer develops on a foot, you may see the ABCDEs of melanoma, but its also possible for a melanoma to have different features. Aside from looking like a changing mole, a melanoma on the foot can appear as a:
Brown or black vertical line under a toenail
Pinkish-red spot or growth
New spot or growth where you injured your foot
Rapidly growing mass on your foot, especially where you once injured your foot
Non-healing sore on your foot
Sore that looks like a diabetic ulcer
Sometimes, melanoma on the foot feels painful, bleeds, or itches, but not always. The bleeding tends to stop and start.
The following pictures show you what melanoma can look like on the foot.
Melanoma on the bottom of a toe
You can see some of the ABCDEs of melanoma. One half of this spot is unlike the other, it has an uneven border, and the color varies within the spot.
Melanoma on the bottom of a foot
Here, you can also see some of ABCDEs of melanoma, such as one half is unlike the other and it is larger than the eraser on a pencil.
Melanoma on the bottom of the foot
In this picture, you can see some of the ABCDEs of melanoma, such as more than one color, uneven border, and one half is unlike the other.
Melanoma beneath a toenail
On the feet and hands, melanoma can begin as a dark vertical line underneath a nail.
Melanoma on a callused heel
You may see melanoma that is brown, black, reddish pink, or flesh colored, and it can appear in just about any shape.
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