Can You Get Skin Cancer on Your Feet?

June 3, 2014
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Warmer weather brings the most active time of year for most people.  It is finally nice enough to get outside, clean up the yard, plant your garden, and BBQ.  Before you spend time outdoors tackling your next big project, it is important to remember to wear sunscreen.


What about our feet, though?  When going barefoot or wearing sandals, many people forget to use sunscreen on their feet.  This can lead to sunburns, and over time can cause pre-cancerous skin lesions such as an actinic keratosis and cancerous skin lesions such as carcinomas and melanomas.


The Pre-Cancerous Lesion:  Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis)


Who has had it?  BROOKE SHIELDS


An actinic keratosis is caused by sun (UV) damage to your skin.  It is a crusty, scaly growth on areas of your body that have been exposed to the sun.  People often mistake an actinic keratosis for a wart because it is raised on your skin, and feels rough.  If left untreated, an actinic keratosis can turn into a squamous cell carcinoma (the 2nd most common type of skin cancer.) 


The Cancerous Lesion:  Squamous Cell Carcinoma (The 2nd Most Common Type of Skin Cancer)


Who has had it?  DIANE KEATON and DONAL LOGUE (Sons of Anarchy, Vikings)


These are caused by all of the sun damage you have had throughout your lifetime combined.   Squamous cell carcinomas can look like a scaly red patch, an open sore, a raised area with a crater like hole in the middle, or a wart.  They can also crust over and/or bleed.  It is important to see a doctor for these because they can be disfiguring and even deadly in some cases.


The Cancerous Lesion:  Melanoma


Who has had it?  BOB MARLEY was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on his right big toe in 1977.  After not getting proper treatment, he was diagnosed with brain, liver, and lung cancer that spread from his toe.


Even though melanomas are not the most common type of skin cancer, they are the most dangerous because they cause the most deaths.    These are usually seen in people who occasionally go out in the sun and then get sunburned.  However, some experts say that a virus can cause a melanoma, so we are all at risk.   A melanoma can look like or even start in a mole, and can be brown, black, pink, blue, purple, red, white, or skin colored.  If you find them early, they are usually curable.  But melanomas can spread to other areas of your body very quickly, and then becomes much harder to treat, making it deadlier. 


Get Checked to Prevent Skin Cancer!


During your foot exam, we check all of your skin, including between your toes.  If you notice one of these lesions on your feet between visits, make an appointment with Dr. Wilkins at our St Elmo location as soon as possible.


By:  Kimberly Wilkins, DPM

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