Largo Foot and Ankle Health Center
1450 Mercantile Lane
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Importance Of Regular Foot Check-Ups
The primary perception that the sun is solely responsible for causing skin cancer holds true for many types of skin cancers, as they are commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the body. However, it is important to note that this is not the case for skin cancers that develop on the feet.
Skin cancers of the feet are influenced by various factors such as exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation or irritation, inherited traits, and viruses. While regular check-ups for foot abnormalities are crucial, it is unfortunate that the skin of the feet often goes unnoticed during routine medical examinations.
Let’s explore the different types of skin cancers that can occur on the legs and feet:
- Basal cell carcinoma is frequently observed on sun-exposed skin surfaces, but its occurrence on the feet is relatively uncommon. Compared to other types of cancers, basal cell carcinoma is less aggressive and tends to cause local damage without spreading beyond the skin. On the legs and feet, basal cell cancers often resemble non-cancerous skin tumors or benign ulcers.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of skin cancer affecting the feet. Initially, it remains confined to the skin, but in advanced stages, it can spread. It typically begins as a small scaly bump or plaque, sometimes appearing inflamed. Recurrent cracking or bleeding may be experienced. Squamous cell cancer can resemble other foot conditions like plantar warts, fungal infections, eczema, ulcers, or common dermatological conditions.
- Malignant melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancers. Early detection is crucial for ensuring patient survival. Melanomas can occur on the skin of the foot or beneath the toenail. They can be found on the soles and tops of the feet. As melanoma grows, it tends to penetrate deeper into the skin, posing a serious threat as it may spread through the lymphatic and blood vessels.
Malignant melanoma typically starts as a small brown-black spot or bump, although approximately one-third of cases lack brown pigment and appear pink or red. These tumors may resemble ordinary moles at first glance, but closer examination often reveals asymmetry, irregular borders, changes in color, and/or a diameter exceeding six millimeters. Melanomas can be mistaken for benign moles, blood blisters, ingrown nails, plantar warts, ulcers caused by poor circulation, foreign bodies, or bruises.
In summary, while sun exposure remains a significant factor in many skin cancers, it is not the primary cause for those occurring on the feet. Skin cancers of the feet are influenced by various factors, and it is essential to be aware of the different types and seek professional medical attention if any abnormalities are observed.