Cancer and Your Feet

You don’t often hear about foot cancer but the skin and bones of your feet are susceptible to a number of cancers just like the other parts of your body. At Great Neck Family Foot Care, we recommend vigilance and regular self checks of your feet so that you can detect any changes or abnormalities in their earliest stages and bring them to the foot doctor’s attention. Cancers that most commonly affect the feet are:

Skin Cancer—There are three basic types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. People don’t always think to put sunscreen on their feet. Exposure to certain chemicals or radiation can also cause skin cancer on your feet. Early detection is critical for skin cancers. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers don’t usually spread. Melanomas, however, are highly aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body. Although they only make up 1% of all skin cancers, they are responsible for over 60% of skin cancer deaths. Lesions that are precancerous are often removed as a preventive measure.

Neoplastic disorders—Tumors or neoplasms can develop in the foot from abnormal tissue growth. These can be benign or malignant.

Kaposi’s sarcoma—This type of cancer can affect any part of the body, including the feet. It is characterized by red, purple or brown lesions on the skin due to abnormal tissue growth under the skin. In some cases, the lesions may be very painful. In other cases, patients experience no symptoms beyond the skin discolorations. In people with HIV/AIDS, this form of cancer can spread rapidly and travel to the lungs or digestive tract.

There are also a number of tumors that are almost always benign that strike the feet. Giant cell tumors grow in the sheath that protects a tendon and can develop deep inside the foot. They can also form on toes or the side or top of the foot. Osteochondromas are benign bone tumors that form under toenails. Another type of benign tumor that forms in the tissue of the plantar fascia is known as plantar fibroma.

If you notice any changes in the skin of your foot or abnormal growths or swellings, make an appointment at our Great Neck office to see our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Alec Hochstein. If you are unable to make it into our office due to disability or illness, ask about a home visit. Oftentimes more than one condition may share similar symptoms and the foot doctor will need to complete a thorough exam of your feet and take a medical history to make an accurate diagnosis. With nearly all medical podiatric conditions, early detection and treatment leads to the best outcome, so don’t delay if you suspect something is wrong.