Learn about the types of cancers that affect the feet, and know their warning signs and symptoms. Common foot cancers include:
Basal cell carcinoma – The least aggressive form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma causes local damage but rarely spreads. On the feet and lower legs, basal cell carcinoma often looks like non-cancerous skin tumors. On other parts of the body, basal cell cancers may manifest as pearly white bumps or patches that ooze or crust over, similar to an open sore.
Squamous cell carcinoma – The most common form of skin cancer on the feet, squamous cell carcinoma usually does not spread. When advanced, however, it can become more aggressive and spread throughout the body. Squamous cell cancer often first appears as a small, scaly bump or plaque. The cancer may be itchy and resemble a plantar wart, fungal infection, eczema, ulcer or other common dermatological problem.
Melanoma – The deadliest form of skin cancer – and the form that is gaining prevalence at an alarming rate – melanoma most often requires surgical treatment. Catching it early is vital to a good outcome for patients, as melanoma can spread throughout the body, affecting the lymphatic system and blood vessels. Melanomas may be found on the tops of the feet, on the soles and even, occasionally, beneath a toenail.
This type of skin cancer often begins as a small brown-black spot or bump, but a third of cases may appear pink or red instead. It’s easy to mistake melanoma for a harmless mole, so look for asymmetry, irregular borders, changes in color and size, or a size greater than 6 millimeters in diameter. Melanomas can look like a host of other things – including blood blisters, plantar warts, common ulcers and even bruises – so it’s important to have a podiatrist, dermatologist or your family doctor take a look at anything you find suspicious.