Skin cancer is common, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Despite these shocking statistics, less than one third of Americans apply sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays—and when they do, the feet are often overlooked.
During the spring and summer seasons especially, the feet are exposed to the sun’s damaging rays, putting them at just as great of risk for skin cancer as other frequently exposed parts of the body, such as the face and arms. For this reason, podiatrists warn patients to pay extra attention to their feet during months when feet are exposed to avoid the harmful effects of the sun.
The good news is that skin cancer of the feet is very preventable. For starters, always apply a generous layer of sunscreen to the tops of the feet, on and between the toes, and to the soles of your feet. Reapply every few hours if you are outdoors for an extended period of time. If you are on the beach or at the pool, opt for water shoes rather than flip-flops which offer a sun-blocking mesh cover. And finally, inspect your feet regularly for unusual skin changes or abnormal growths.
Common Warning Signs
Because skin cancer of the feet can easily be mistaken for other, less serious problems, such as a wart, rash or fungal infection, it is important for patients to report any questionable symptoms to their podiatrist. Detecting skin cancer early is the key to optimal treatment.
Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat abnormal skin conditions of the feet. If a lesion is determined to be cancerous, your podiatrist will recommend the best course of treatment for your condition.