Skin cancers on the feet, such as melanomas are often overlooked. This leads to a poorer prognosis than cancers on the rest of the body.
Most skin cancers, such as melanomas typically develop on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. However rare forms of melanoma can occur on parts of the body that have not been exposed to sunlight. Making the soles of the feet, toenail beds and in-between the toes susceptible to skin cancers.
Melanomas on the feet can develop from pre-existing moles or newly on the skin. According to the Cancer Council, melanomas are the third most common cancer in Australia and the most common cancer between the ages of 15-44.
Australia and New Zealand has the world highest rate of melanomas, due to the higher levels of exposure of ultra-violet (UV) light with our beach and outdoor lifestyle.
What Increases the Risk of Skin Cancers on the Feet?
- High number of pre-existing moles or freckles.
- Fair skin.
- 3 or more significant sunburns.
- Not applying sunscreen to the feet.
- Wearing a lot of open footwear, such as thongs.
How to Assess Skin Cancers on the Feet?
ABCDE Melanoma Detection Guide:
- Asymmetry- look for freckles or moles where both sides are not even.
- Border- examine freckles or moles for a spreading or irregular edge.
- Colour- check for freckles and moles with a number colours, such as black, blue, red, white and/or grey.
- Diameter- assess for freckles or moles increasing in size.
- Evolving- take note of freckles or moles that start to evolve or change.
Please note: skin cancers of the foot, can only be properly diagnosed following a biopsy and histological reporting.
Tips for Preventing Skin Cancers on the Feet
- Remember to apply sunscreen to your feet when barefoot,wearing sandals, thongs or where the top of the foot is exposed.
- Check your skin regularly for moles, growths or marks. Remembering to check your feet, including the soles, in-between the toes and toenails.
- Have any suspicious lesion checked by a dermatologist.
- Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am-4pm when the UV rays are the most powerful.
- Reduce excessive sun exposure and risk of sunburn.
There is a high risk associated with a delay in recognising the signs of skin cancers on the feet. Fashion designer Alannah Hill made headlines when she publicised the treatment journey she went through when she was diagnosed with a melanoma on one of her toes. Similarly, singer Bob Marley died in 1981 at age 36 from a melanoma under his toenail.
At Well Heeled Podiatry we are aware of the risk of skin cancers on the feet and will advise you if we come across any lesions we believe you should have checked by a skin specialist. This includes lesions such as amelanotic melanomas which do not have the classical appearance of a regular mole.