Foot Melanoma: A Complete Overview
Jun 16 , 2021
Tags - Types Symptoms Risk Factors of Foot Melanoma
Foot Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which develops on anywhere of the foot, including the sole or under a nail, and occurs in a melanocyte - a type of skin cell.
Specifically, these skin cells are responsible for producing melanin which protects the body against harmful effects of UV (ultraviolet) light.
Typically, foot melanoma can be treated in the early stages, but if you are not aware of the symptoms, early diagnosis can often be missed.
Consequently, if foot melanoma spreads it can be critical and even life threatening.
In this blog we provide a complete overview of Foot Melanoma, including types, symptoms, risk factors and prevention.
Types of Foot Melanoma
As briefly mentioned, foot melanoma is a type of skin cancer affecting the cells that produce melanin in the foot.
Although it only counts for 1% of skin cancers that occur as a whole, it causes the highest number of deaths.
Notably, there are various types of melanoma that can appear:
- Acral Lentiginous Melanoma; typically presents itself as a dark patch on the skin and in the nail, can look like a wide dark streak. It can develop in all skin tones but is more apparent in those with a darker complexion.
- Nodular Melanoma; usually appears as a dark blue or purple papule and is more common in older adults.
- Superficial Spreading Melanoma; the most common type of melanoma overall - it grows out on top of the skin, rather than inwards. On the foot, usually it will occur on the upper surface.
- Amelanotic Melanoma; this type is colourless and can look like a person’s skin - easy to misdiagnose because of this characerisitc.
Commonly, the first sign of melanoma is due to a change in size, colour or shape of an existing mole - or - when a new mole appears.
Generally speaking, most moles are harmless.
However, it’s important to identify any changes as a means to catch melanoma early on.
In order to spot the changes, two acronyms can be used.
Firstly - ABCDE can be used to spot any new warning signs:
- Asymmetry: Does half of the mole look different?
- Border: Is there an irregular or indistinct border?
- Colour: Is the mole more than one colour?
- Diameter: Has the mole grown more than 6mm in size?
- Evolution: Has the mole gradually changed in size, shape or colour?
Secondly, CUBED can be used specifically for foot melanoma.
- Colour: is the mole a different colour to the rest of the skin?
- Uncertain: Has there been a definite diagnosis?
- Bleeding: Does the mole bleed or leak fluid?
- Enlargement: Has the mole grown despite treatment?
- Delay: Does the mole take longer than 2 months to heal?
If you notice any of the above changes, you should seek medical advice to detect foot melonoma early on.
Other symptoms include, the colour of the mole spreading to the skin outside its border, changes in sensation such as itchiness or changes of the overall mole surface.
Whether it’s from the sun or an artificial source, UV light is a major cause of skin cancer.
In particular, UV light damages the skin DNA and affects how the cells grow, therefore regular exposure to UV increases the risk of melanoma.
Another risk factor is age - melanoma is more likely to affect older adults and rarely occurs before puberty.
Finally, other risk factors include existing moles, pale skin or family history can all play a part too.
By taking some of the following precautions, you can help to reduce the risk of foot melanoma:
- Wear flip-flops or shoes with socks instead of going barefoot.
- Use sunscreen when exposed to the sun, especially in areas where shoes do not protect
- If you have existing moles, be sure to check the appearance of these daily
- Inspect feet daily, including the soles and nails for new moles
- Avoid UV radiation from artificial light sources
Now, we’re not saying to avoid the sun completely.
Instead, make sure you’re taking extra care and caution before heading out to prevent melanoma from occuring.
The Final Word
If you find a new bump or mole on your foot it could be melanoma.
Unfortunately, foot melanoma can be mistaken for warts or normal pigment as opposed to skin cancer.
As such, any new changes on your foot should be examined by a doctor or skin specialist for early prevention from a condition that could be life threatening.
For more information please get in touch.
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