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Summer, Sun and Cancers of the Skin

Sign of Skin Cancer

With summer officially underway and the sun finally deciding to shine on us, let us not forget the role of sunscreen for your feet. This oft forgotten step can be the cause of skin cancers in the future. During my second year of podiatry school, I had the opportunity to learn from one of the foremost experts in podiatric dermatopathology. Dermatopathology is the study of skin diseases of the skin at the microscopic level. Bradley Bakotic, MD/DPM lectures about skin pathology all over the country to podiatry and other specialties and was my professor for a very intense course in pathology of the lower extremity. When it comes to skin cancer due to sun exposure, one of the most basic prevention techniques he emphasizes is the use of sunscreen for the feet. This may seem oversimplified, I honestly can’t think of a time when I did put sunscreen on my feet before hearing his lectures, and I will admit that I have forgotten a few times since then…

When was the last time you put sunscreen on your feet?

Skin on the feet, especially on the bottom, is often overlooked during routine medical exams. Skin cancers of the feet have several features in common. Most are painless, but often there’s a history of recurrent cracking, itching, bleeding or ulceration. These cancers often go undiagnosed until another issue presents itself near the affected site.

Prevention is the key! Here are some simple keys to detecting the skin cancer early.

Keys to early detection

Skin Cancer on Toenail

Remember your ABC’s and DEFGHI too
A – Asymmetry: Most benign (non-cancerous) lesions are shaped like a circle. When there is irregular shape, the index of suspicion raises.
B – Border: Likewise, if the border or the lesion is smooth and regular, it points to benign. Irregular borders raise the index of suspicion.
C – Color: Uniformity of the lesion’s color. If uniform in color, think benign. If the color is uneven or varies from one area to the other, think malignant.
D – Diameter: If the size of the lesion is larger than a pencil eraser, approximately 6mm, be suspicious.
E – Examine: The most common locations that melanoma’s develop – the back, arms, neck, and shoulders, and of course, the feet.
F – Fragility: Suspicious lesions will often bleed slightly when scratched or touched.
G – Growth: Suspicious lesions often grow larger over time.
H – Hurt: Suspicious lesions are more likely to be tender, painful, or irritated.
I – Itchy: Suspicious lesions are more likely to become itchy.

Skin Cancer can run Deep
From at the American Academy of Dermatology website, it estimates that in 2013, with will be about 138,000 new cases of melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer(1). Come in early if you’ve notice anything suspicious. Your prognosis depends on it!


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