Melanoma is a malignant tumor that starts in melanocytes (the cells that give your skin its pigmentation). Because people tend not to pay much attention to their feet until there is a problem, melanoma in the feet can often be missed until it has spread deeper and carries with it a worse prognosis. According to a 2003 study, the overall 5-year survival rate for patients with a primary melanoma of the foot is 52%.
The tricky thing about melanoma on the feet is that it doesn't always present in an obvious way. It can also start on the bottoms of the feet (when's the last time you looked there?) or under the nail or cuticle on your toes. Melanoma can even arise from a mole that 'has been there as long as (you) can remember.'
A few things to keep in mind:
1. A person's risk of melanoma doubles if he/she has had greater than 5 sunburns.
2. Those with fair skin, freckles and light hair are at higher risk of developing melanoma
3. Family history of melanoma increases your risk of developing melanoma
4. Early diagnosis (typically through an in-office biopsy) and surgical excision are critical to cure melanoma.
5. Melanoma can appear as a wound that won't heal, a discoloration of any kind on the skin, pain, itching, change in appearance of the top of a wart (more scaly, oozing, bleeding).
Don't neglect your feet! Do yourself a favor and look at your feet (top and bottom) and nails. If you have concern for any moles, sores, ingrown nails, or wounds - call us today for an appointment for an assessment! Any concerning skin lesions can be biopsied in a simple office procedure.