I know that we are in the middle of winter, albeit a warm winter, but I thought today would be a great day to discuss malignant melanoma and the feet as the groundhog did not see his shadow meaning an early spring/summer. In our office, we have posters that show pictures of skin cancers of the feet and multiple times a day patients say to us “Wow, I didn’t know you can develop skin cancer on the feet.” I am here today to tell you, YES, you can develop skin cancer on the feet.
Malignant Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers as it commonly spreads to other organ systems. It can present on the skin of the feet and also underneath the nail when it is called subungual melanoma. (Bob Marley died of this hence the above picture) Commonly, the ABC’s of melanoma can be used to evaluate skin lesions. It is important to realize that all melanomas do not need to have all of the below but having one or some of the these characteristics can suggest malignancy.
If you observe a mole, patch, or bump on the skin that meets any of the following below, see a podiatrist right away
- Asymmetry – If the lesion is not symmetrical between the two sides
- Borders – Borders look uneven, or ragged.
- Color – Can be brown, black, white or colorless. There may be more than one color. These colors may have an uneven distribution.
- Diameter – Lesion is greater than 6mm (size of pencil eraser)
- Evolution- Changing with time
- Family History
When melanoma presents underneath the nail, it can present as a darkened band of discoloration on the nail. Pigment can also leach into the skin surrounding the nail causing discoloration of the skin.
Diagnosis is typically first with clinical evaluation by your podiatrist and if melanoma is suspected, a small biopsy of the lesion is taken in the office and sent to the pathologist to look at under the microscope. A few days later, a diagnosis is made and treatment is based on that diagnosis.
The key to a better prognosis for skin cancer (and any cancer) is early diagnosis. If you or any family members or friends have any skin discolorations, moles, bumps or lesions on the feet, call Quality Foot Care at 215-230-9707 for an appointment for evaluation by one of our board certified podiatrists!