There are many types of foot cancers—one of the more rare kinds is plantar melanoma.
Melanoma found on the sole or underside of your foot is called plantar melanoma.
Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer that is very curable if caught early. Although it makes up only 1 percent of skin cancers, malignant melanoma accounts for over 60 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Unfortunately, plantar melanomas are not often detected early. The frequent delay in diagnosis of plantar lesions is most likely due to their location. People don’t often look at the bottom of their feet—or if something is noticed on the bottom of a foot— it is often mistakenly identified as a wart, callus, mole or fungal infection, which often delays necessary treatment.
I have seen three of these in 20 years of practice, so they are rare indeed. Interestingly, all three presented as an inflamed growth under the nail, and other doctors were treating it as an ingrown nail that for some reason was not getting better. A simple biopsy can verify the diagnosis so excision can proceed.
Race is a significant risk factor in contracting plantar melanoma. Plantar melanoma is more rare for Caucasians, accounting for 2-8% of melanoma cases, while it increases to 35-90% in patients of African-American, Asian or Hispanic descent.
There is no cure for advanced plantar melanoma, and it needs a wide excision, making early detection and treatment critical for a higher survival rate. It can mean an amputation of a foot or leg. Preventative action is the best action! Knowing what to look for is the first step.
Use the following acronym when examining your feet or any part of your body for suspicious moles or growths.
ABCDE Signs of Melanoma
A – Asymmetry. This means one side of the lesion looks different than the other.
B – Border. Look for whether the edges of a lesion are irregular.
C – Color. Look for variances of color within the lesion.
D – Diameter. See if the lesion is bigger than 6 mm.
E – Evolution. Monitor any changes in the lesion in regards to color, shape and size.
If you discover an unusual growth or lesion on your foot, contact your podiatrist right away.
If you are noticing anything unusual with your feet or are experiencing ankle or heel problems, Sarasota or Bradenton is the place to be! Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday, Dr. Zdancewicz, or Dr. Goecker for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in our Bradenton Podiatry office at (941) 753-9599 or our Sarasota Podiatry office at (941) 366-2627.
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Photo Courtesy of Dermnet.com