Foot Melanoma Is The Deadliest Cancer, But Routine Foot Self Exams Can Increase Early Detection, Survival

The next time you clip your toe nails, take closer loot at the rest of your feet. An extra 60 seconds could save your life.Foot and ankle surgeons say routine self examinations of the feet are an important way to find skin cancer early, when it’s easiest to cure. Half of the people who learn they have melanoma of the foot die within five years because the cancer had already spread throughout their body by the time it was diagnosed.

Nearly 60,000 people will learn they have melanoma this year. It’s not known how many of those cases will involve the foot, but more than 8,100 melanoma patients will die. nearly one death every hour. If melanoma is detected in its earliest stages, 92 percent of patients are alive after five years.

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Melanoma is a serious skin cancer that affects leg and feet and also other parts of the body. In melanoma, pigment producing cells called melanocytes become cancerous. They grow and divide at an uncontrolled rate. The main reason for melanoma cancer is exposure to ultraviolet rays or UV rays.

The most important component of skin color is dark pigment called melanin which is produced by melanocytes. Melanin ranges in color from yellow to black. This melanin pigment protects the body from ultraviolet rays. When the person is exposed to sunrays, melanins become dark, which results in tanned appearance.

Melanoma is increasing faster in places where the person least expects, that is feet. It is misdiagnosed more likely than if it were on any other parts of the body. Melanoma can occur on any part of the foot including under toe nail or sole. They can appear as abnormal moles or pigmented skin.

Symptoms that can be seen with melanoma:

Change in the appearance of the mole. The mole of the person will appear normally and evenly colored if it is ordinary. The ordinary mole can be brown, black or tan and some are present at birth. In some persons, the moles can appear during a person’s life time, but do not change in shape or size.

Abnormal mole can be identified with color variation, asymmetrical lesions, diameter changes and border irregularities. There will be other changes that can occur in existing moles.

Acral lentiginous melanoma commonly occurs around nails, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. As the disease develops under nail beds, treatment will be delayed. Acral lentiginous melanoma resembles like a blood blister, bruise, or brown-black patch on the finger or toe. It spreads slowly.

The other melanoma symptoms include color change from black or brown to red, blue, or white. The mole may become popular or raised.

Once you notice the symptoms of melanoma, consult a dermatologist or foot and ankle surgeon for immediate treatment.

The risk factors of foot melanoma are red hair, fair skin, blue eyes, excessive exposure to sun, numerous moles on the body and history of cancer in the family.

Foot melanoma can be avoided when safety instructions are followed while outside. Taking care of feet and ankles are equally important while in the sun. Use a sunscreen lotion to the feet to protect the feet from ultraviolet rays.