Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including the lower extremities. We often think of exposure to harmful rays from the sun as being the primary cause of skin cancer. However, in addition to sun exposure, skin cancers can also be related to viruses, exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation, genetics, or a weakened immune system.
The most common types of skin cancers that affect the foot, ankle and leg are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Some symptoms of these cancers include spontaneous ulcers or non-healing sores, raised nodules with rolled edges, bumps that crack or bleed, or scaling areas. Many of these types of lesions are not painful but should be examined by a physician. It is also important to keep in mind the “ABCDs” of melanoma:
- A is for Asymmetry (if the lesion is divided in half and the sides don’t match)
- B is for Borders (uneven edges to the area)
- C is for Color (the color of the lesion is uneven or is multi-colored)
- D is for Diameter (the lesion is wider than a pencil eraser)
Skin cancers on the lower extremities are diagnosed through a detailed clinical exam by a podiatrist and often combined with a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy is a simple procedure where a small sample of the lesion is obtained and sent to a laboratory to be examined by a skin pathologist. Your podiatrist will recommend the best course of treatment based on the results of the skin biopsy. The best way to prevent skin cancers of the foot, ankle and leg is to limit sun exposure and be sure to apply sunscreen when you are outdoors and these areas are exposed.
The skin of the feet is often overlooked during routine medical examinations. For this reason, it is important to check your skin and toenails regularly for any abnormalities. If you notice something suspicious, please call us today at 732-838-FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained foot and ankle surgeons.