Signs Those Spots On Your Feet Could Be Foot Cancer

You probably know how important it is to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure. You slather sunblock on your arms and legs during your long hikes. Maybe you wear a big hat to protect your face, neck, and ears when you go to the beach. How often do you protect your feet? It's probably something you don't think much about — unless you get a funky tan from your flip-flops.

Even though your feet probably don't get as much sun exposure as other parts of your body, you could get cancer on your feet. A spot or a mole on your foot might easily get overlooked, but it's important to check the bottom of your feet and between your toes for skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Although melanoma lesions are often brown or black, melanoma of the foot can be pink or red. Foot melanoma might also appear as a brown or black vertical line underneath your toenail. Sometimes foot cancer can develop if you've had a foot injury, so look for any new lesions around the injury that grow quickly. If you have a sore on your foot that either looks like an ulcer or doesn't heal, it might be worth seeing a doctor.

Other signs to look for on your foot

Skin cancers can begin with a mole that develops unusual characteristics, according to Medical News Today. You can use the acronym ABCDE to determine how suspicious a mole might be. The "A" means asymmetry, so one half of the mole doesn't mirror the other. The "B" is about the border of the mole. Check if the border has an irregular shape. "C" stands for color, so look for moles that have different colors. Cancerous growths are also larger in diameter ("D") than a pencil's eraser. If the growth changes or evolves ("E") in color, size, or shape, you should see a doctor.

Foot cancer lesions could also bleed or leak fluid, and they could itch or cause pain. Although many skin cancers will have a different color than your skin, amelanotic melanoma often will appear as a growth that is skin-colored, according to City of Hope. This rare form of melanoma is often mistaken for other carcinomas or benign scars or moles. However, amelanotic melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer that develops and spreads quickly.

Risk factors and treatment for foot cancer

Although skin cancer on other parts of the body is usually due to excessive sun exposure, skin cancer on the foot can develop from viruses, exposure to chemicals, chronic inflammation, or your family history (via American Podiatric Medical Association). It's also possible that a previous injury on your foot could put you at greater risk for skin cancer on your foot. According to a 2017 article in Revista Brasileira de Neurologia, reggae singer Bob Marley injured his toe during a soccer game in 1977. He died of melanoma three years later.

If you notice any suspicious moles on your foot, your doctor will ask you questions about when you noticed it and if there have been any changes in size or appearance. Your doctor will also check the lymph nodes in your abdomen, and a dermatologist can do a biopsy to determine if it's melanoma. It's important to detect melanoma and other skin cancers early. Untreated melanoma can spread to other parts of the body through your blood vessels and lymph nodes.