The ABC's of Skin Cancer
When you slather on sunscreen to protect yourself from the Texas sun, don’t forget your feet! The skin on your feet is susceptible to skin cancer, too, and in many ways, it’s even more vulnerable than other parts of your body. Your feet, after all, are typically in sandals, or even bare if swimming, exposed to the sun’s harmful rays on a regular basis. Protection is key to avoiding skin cancer, but knowing the signs is also important, so you can catch problems early and receive the prompt treatment you need.
Skin Cancers of the Feet and Their Symptoms
Although there are many varieties of skin cancer, the most common types found on the feet include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma. This is the least dangerous form of skin cancer of the feet as it rarely spreads beyond the skin and remains localized. Signs include pearly, white bumps or a patch that appears like a sore that won’t heal.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This is perhaps the most common type of all, and while it starts out confined to the skin in its early stages, if left untreated, will advance and spread. It often begins as a small, scaly bump that may appear swollen and can crack and bleed. It may also feel rough and itch, and can be easily mistaken as a wart, fungal infection, or simply a patch of dry skin. That’s why anything out of the ordinary should be assessed!
Malignant Melanoma. One of the deadliest cancers known, this type must be caught early and treated promptly to avoid it spreading throughout the body. It may appear on the skin atop your foot, but can also be found on the sole and beneath toenails. To spot this type of skin cancer and differentiate from a simple freckle or mole, remember your ABC’s (and D and E’s).
· Asymmetry -- if the lesion is divided in half, the two sides do not match
· Border -- an uneven, scalloped, or ragged border.
· Color -- more than one color or an uneven distribution of color
· Diameter -- wider than a pencil eraser
· Evolution -- growing in size.
Spotting Signs and Seeking Help
The best way to spot signs of skin cancer is to inspect your feet daily. While this is typically something we tell our diabetic patients, it can truly benefit everyone, especially those who spend a lot of time in our Texas sun! Use the guidelines above and come see us if you find any suspicious blemishes on your feet. You can reach either of our offices in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX by dialing (512) 593-2949. We will examine your feet and determine if a skin biopsy is necessary. If it is found to be cancerous, we will begin an appropriate treatment plan right away.
In the meantime, follow these tips to protect your feet:
1. Apply sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 30. Reapply every two hours.
2. Limit sun exposure, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun is most intense.
3. If at all possible, wear socks or keep feet shaded.
Call us if you need us! We’re here to help.