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Melanoma of the Foot

With summer officially here, many of us will be excited to spend more time outdoors under the sun while wearing sandals or open-toed shoes.  While some people routinely use sunscreen when outside, how many of us think about protecting our feet from the sun?

Melanoma of the Foot
Skin cancer is the most common form of all cancers diagnosed in the US, and approximately 1 in 5 Americans will develop some type of skin cancer.  The foot is susceptible to all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.  The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma; it is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths.  Melanoma is a tumor of melanocytes, which are cells responsible for the color of your skin.  Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun increases your risk of getting melanoma.

Inspect Your Feet
Check your skin regularly for any new or abnormal looking moles or freckles.  Don’t forget to inspect the bottoms of your feet and in between your toes as well.  Early detection is critical for the treatment of skin cancer.  When checking your feet, look for the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma.

 Asymmetry – the lesion is asymmetric; one half is different from the other half
 Border – the borders are irregular and jagged
 Color – the color is uneven with different shades of brown and/or black
 Diameter – the diameter is greater than 5 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)
 Evolving – the lesion evolves in appearance over time

If you notice any new or changing areas of pigmentation that display any of these warning signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.  Any suspicious skin lesion should be biopsied.  A biopsy is a quick office procedure that can be done by your podiatrist.  It can help determine if a lesion is skin cancer.

Protect Your Feet
Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors as long as you take a few steps to protect your skin.  Prevention of skin cancer requires minimizing exposure to ultraviolet rays.  Avoid sun exposure during the peak daytime hours.  Wear sun-protective clothing.  And of course, apply sunscreen to exposed skin including your feet.

Hubert Lee, DPM, FACFAOM is a podiatrist at CarePlus Foot and Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, Washington.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (425) 455-0936 or visit

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