Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including the feet. Skin cancers of the feet have similar qualities. Most are painless, and often have a history of repeated cracking, bleeding, or ulceration.
Most people associate too much sun exposure as the main cause of skin cancer. However, skin cancer of the feet is more often related to viruses, exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation or genetics. The skin of the feet is often overlooked during routine medical examinations. Because of this, the feet need to be checked regularly by a trained podiatrist such as Alan J. Discont, DPM or Dr. Krahn to be sure there are no abnormalities.
Types and Symptoms
Some of the most common cancers of the feet are:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer on the skin of the feet. Most types of early squamous cell carcinoma are confined to the skin and do not spread. However, if the cancer is advanced it can spread to other parts of the body. It often begins as a small scaly bump which may appear inflamed. Cracking and bleeding that recurs is also a sign of this cancer. Occasionally it begins as a hard callus-like region. Though squamous cell cancer can be itchy, it does not usually cause pain. Squamous cell cancer may resemble a plantar wart, a fungal infection, eczema, an ulcer, or other common skin conditions of the foot.
Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma is not usually found on the feet but sometimes does occur there. Usually the damage stays mainly in the skin. Basal cell cancers may appear as pearly white bumps or patches that may ooze or crust. They also sometimes look like small benign tumors.
Malignant Melanoma: Malignant melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers. This type of skin cancer must be detected very early to ensure patient survival. Melanomas can occur on the skin of the feet or under toenails. They are found both on the soles and on the top of the feet. Malignant melanoma appears in many different ways. Melanomas may resemble benign moles, blood blisters, ingrown nails, plantar warts or bruises.
Asymmetry - When 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 and they can be unevenly distributed.
Diameter – The lesion is wider than a pencil eraser.