Cancer might just be the scariest word in the world. If cancer is the diagnosis you will have a lot of questions, and sometimes there won’t be as many answers. Cancer doesn’t have to be the end of the world. If caught early, your success rates increase. This is why it’s so important to take control of your health. Check your feet daily and note any changes, and get yourself medical attention if you do notice anything worrisome.
Skin Cancer and Your Feet
Some of the most common types of cancer in the world are skin cancers. Of these, malignant melanoma is the most deadly. Melanoma can hide anywhere on the foot, including the top, the soles, the ankles, even underneath a nail. This type of cancer can spread very quickly, so early detection is absolutely crucial.
Don’t just assume your moles are healthy. Get a closer look from a medical professional if you are worried. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly found skin cancer found on the feet. It doesn’t usually spread and stays confined to your skin cells. Squamous cell cancer is typically painless, but can be itchy. It can also resemble other types of foot conditions, such as a fungal infection or plantar wart.
Basal cell carcinoma is usually found on surfaces of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. It is far less aggressive than even squamous cell carcinoma and almost always stays confined to one area. It is known for presenting with small pearly white bumps that ooze and crust over, but never completely heal.
Other Types of Cancer
The other types of cancer we see most often in the feet are bone cancers. Benign tumors can exist in the bones of the foot, but we are going to address only the malignant types. There are two basic categories: metastatic cancers and primary bone sarcomas.
Metastatic cancer simply means the cancer originated somewhere else and then spread to the bones. Primary bone sarcomas mean that the cancer originated in the bones. Osteosarcoma starts in the bone cells and is usually found in young adults. Ewing’s sarcoma is also found in younger people (under the age of 20) and can originate in the bone or the soft tissue around the bone. Chrondrosarcoma is more common in older people and originates in the cartilage.
What to Look Out For
Checking your feet daily can really help in the fight against cancer. Your body will often show you that something isn’t right, and it’s up to you to notice. Skin cancer displays itself in many ways, but knowing what to spot in a cancerous mole is very important. Just remember your ABCDE’s.
- A-Asymmetry. A healthy mole will be symmetrical in shape. If one isn’t, it might be cause for concern.
- B-Borders. The borders of a healthy mole are smooth. On a melanoma they will be more jagged or notched.
- C-Color. Usually a benign mole is one solid shade of brown. With a cancerous mole they can be many different colors from black to brown to blue, or even a mix of colors.
- D-Diameter. A healthy mole is small in diameter, usually smaller than the eraser on a pencil. If it becomes larger than that it is a good idea to keep an eye on it.
- E-Evolving. Moles typically stay the same over time. If they are changing, or evolving, it could be an indicator of something more dangerous.
If you happen to notice any of these signs of cancer it’s a good idea to get yourself to a doctor for a biopsy. This will determine whether you need treatment or not.
We Can Help
If you have a worrisome mole on your foot that you want checked out do not hesitate to call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment with us in one of three Massachusetts office locations.