Podiatrists, such as Dr. Lockwood, are uniquely trained as lower extremity specialists to recognize and treat abnormal skin conditions of the feet and ankles. Skin cancers in the lower extremity may have a very different appearance from those on the rest of the body. For this reason, a podiatrist’s knowledge and clinical training is of the utmost importance in the early detection of both benign and malignant skin tumors.
Most skin cancers of the feet are painless, and some have a history of recurrent bleeding, cracking, or ulceration. Some skin cancers can look like ulcers, non-healing sores, bumps that crack or bleed, nodules with rolled edges, or distinct scaly areas. Some of the most common cancers of the feet include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma is frequently seen on sun-exposed surfaces and is one of the least aggressive cancers in the body. It may appear as pearly white bumps, patches which may ooze or crust, or be similar in appearance to an open sore or ulcer.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of cancer on the feet. It is painless, but may be itchy. Squamous cell cancer may resemble a plantar wart, fungal infection, eczema, an ulcer, or other common dermatological conditions of the foot. It may appear as a small scaly bump or plaque, inflamed area of skin, or a hard projecting callus-like lesion.
Malignant Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers known. It may occur on the tops of the feet, soles of the feet, or beneath a toenail. This cancer has many potential appearances, hence its nickname, ‘The Great Masquerader’. It may begin as a small black, brown, pink, or red spot or bump. Melanomas may resemble moles, blood blisters, ingrown nails, plantar warts, ulcers, foreign bodies, or bruises.
When examining a lesion, remember the ABCDs of melanomas:
A- Asymmetry. If divided in half, the sides don’t match.
B- Borders. They look scalloped, uneven, or ragged.
C- Color. They may have more than 1 color. Colors may have uneven distribution.
D- Diameter. They can appear wider than a pencil eraser, greater than 6 mm.
These are telltale signs of skin cancer and if you have any of the above mentioned characteristics, please make an appointment immediately.
Your podiatrist will investigate the possibility of skin cancer both through his/her clinical examination and with the use of a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy is a simple procedure in which a small sample of the skin lesion is obtained and sent to a specialized laboratory where a skin pathologist will examine the tissue in greater detail. Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates sends all their biopsies to the only board-certified dermatopathologists in the state- BAKO Pathology. Dermatopathologists have specialized training in the analysis of abnormal skin lesions from the ankle and foot. If the lesion is determined to be malignant, your podiatrist will recommend the best course of treatment for you.
If you notice a freckle, mole, bump, or patch of skin on yourself, a friend or family member that meets any of these criteria, call our office at 309-661-9975 to schedule a biopsy appointment immediately. An early diagnosis could save your life!