While most of us remember to sunscreen our faces, we tend to forget other parts of the body, making skin cancer on feet a real risk. Of even more concern? If you develop cancer on your foot, you might not experience any kind of pain. And, unfortunately, that could lead to a delayed diagnosis and worse outcomes.
Now, regular skin checks can help detect any kind of cancer. But most exams look for moles that change shape. And they often neglect the skin on your feet. Plus, skin cancer on feet looks different than it does on other body parts. So, for that reason, we suggest asking our Powder Springs podiatrist to check your feet for skin cancer. Here’s what to expect.
How to Check for Skin Cancer on Feet
While some cancers on the foot may be due to sun exposure, most are actually caused by a virus. That’s why we have to check the tops and bottoms of your feet when looking for signs of skin cancer.
Of course, we can’t expect you to come into the office weekly for skin exams. So you can regularly examine your feet at home, making sure to use a mirror or ask a friend for help seeing your whole fit, including the bottoms and spots between the toes. (If you have diabetes, you can include signs of skin cancer as one the of the changes you look for in your daily foot exams.) But what exactly are you looking for? Keep reading to find out.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer on Foot
When you perform foot checks looking for skin cancer, it’s important to know what symptoms to look out for. Here are some of the ways to detect signs of skin cancer.
Sometimes, cracked skin that itches or bleeds is a sign of dry skin. But other times, it’s a sign of skin cancer. And that case of skin cancer could actually be quite advanced. So it’s crucial to come into the office if you notice any cracks in the skin on your feet.
Another possible warning sign? Any sore that doesn’t heal could be cancerous. Alternatively, it could be the start of a diabetic ulcer. Either way, spotting this kind of wound on your feet is a reason to call our podiatry practice in Powder Springs right away.
What else should you look for during a skin cancer check on your foot? Watch for bumps that bleed or crack. Also take note of nodules, especially ones with scaly patches or rolling edges—both are cause for concern.
Basal Cell Cancer on the Foot: A Slightly Different Look
All of the previous symptoms of skin cancer on feet are important to look for. But the most common type of skin cancer—basal cell cancer—looks different. If you develop this form of skin cancer, caused by sun exposure, you may notice white, pearly bumps on your feet. Or, there may be patches of skin that are crusty or oozing.
Luckily, basal cell cancers are pretty easy to treat when detected early. Again, that’s why it’s important to check the skin on your feet for these warning signs. And to call the office right away if you see any worrisome changes.
The same is true of another cancer warning sign: small bumps on the feet, often with a scaly texture. These could be an early symptom of squamous cell carcinoma, the most common—and aggressive—type of skin cancer on feet.
Unfortunately, this kind of cancer is one of the hardest to spot. Initially, it won’t cause any pain, it will just make your feet itch. For that reason, it’s often mis-diagnosed as eczema, a fungal infection or even a plantar wart. And that could spell big trouble because, once squamous cell cancers spread, they become harder to treat, and can even prove fatal.
Finally, there’s one more type of cancer you have to worry about on your feet—the malignant melanoma. (Pictured at right). And this should be a big worry because, unless it’s detected early on, even a simple toe melanoma can often become a fatal problem. Why is that the case? This type of cancer can form anywhere on your feet, but they can also grow beneath your toenails, growing through the skin reaching your bloodstream. At that point, the cancer could circulate through your entire body. And that’s why we have to catch melanomas early, before they have the chance to spread.
But what does a melanoma look like in the early stages? Initially, you might notice a brown-black bump or spot, likely small in size. However, in about 30% of melanoma cases, those spots are red or pink. Often, people confuse tumors for moles. But there are key ways to tell the difference. Unlike a mole, a melanoma will have an asymmetrical shape or irregular borders. The color could change with time, or grow to larger than six millimeters in diameter. Now, while they may still have an appearance that’s similar to moles, blisters, warts or even ingrown toenails, Dr. Alvin Cowans can spot the difference. So, if you want to protect yourself from skin cancer on feet, it’s important to come to the office when you notice any changes to the appearance of your feet.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
We diagnose skin cancer anywhere on your body with a biopsy. Basically, during this procedure, we take a small skin sample from your foot and send it to the lab where a trained pathologist will look for cancerous cells. If we detect problematic cells, we’ll determine the type of cancer you’re dealing with, and help you determine your next steps.
Remember, while skin cancer on feet is a common problem, it’s one of the easiest cancers to treat—as long as we catch problems early on in their formation process. And, for that, we need to work together. So, remember: regularly check the skin on your feet for signs of changes. Then, if you see something suspicious, say something! Click here to contact us online or call the office at and request an immediate appointment.