What should you do when you notice a lesion or area of your foot that looks different from the rest of your skin? Should you go to your primary care doctor? A dermatologist? A podiatrist? The lesion could be a variety of things including a wart, an ulcer, a fungal infection, a bruise or blood blister, an ordinary mole, or a skin cancer.
Dermatologists and dermatology PAs are specially trained to identify and treat skin lesions on the foot. While skin cancers on the foot are uncommon overall, they do occur, including on the toes and under the toenails. The most common type of skin cancer on the toes and feet is squamous cell skin cancer, which may initially resemble a plantar wart, ulcer, or fungal infection. This can lead to delay in diagnosis and treatment. For example, our patient was initially treated for a suspected infection of an ingrown toenail by her podiatrist. However, her lesion continued to grow prompting additional evaluation and biopsy by her dermatologist. Her dermatologist did the right thing, as any non-healing lesion should be suspicious for skin cancer until proven otherwise. The patient was referred to our center for prompt treatment with Mohs surgery and reconstruction to remove the skin cancer but save her toe.
The second most common skin cancer on the feet is melanoma. While melanoma often develops on sun-exposed areas, it can also present on areas where the sun rarely shines. Interestingly, the most common site for African Americans and Asians to develop melanoma is on the feet and hands. Because people rarely check their feet for signs of melanoma, this cancer often spreads before it is noticed. A famous example of a foot melanoma is Bob Marley. Many suspect that Bob Marley’s fatal melanoma developed at the site of a foot injury from soccer. Research suggests that a foot injury is associated with developing a melanoma.
In case you and Bob Marley have a spot on the foot in common, schedule an appointment with one of our dermatology clinicians for your skin check today.