What is melanoma and foot melanoma?
Skin cancer consists of tumors that grow in your skin. It must be treated immediately or ultimately it may spread. Melanoma is one of the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer. It develops in the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives colour to your skin. Melanoma can spread from these cells to all the other parts of your body.
Foot melanoma is a type of skin cancer that affects the feet. It can appear anywhere on the foot, including the sole or under a nail. It begins in the melanocyte which is a type of skin cell. These cells are located in the uppermost layer of the skin. They produce a dark pigment known as melanine that protects the body against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light.
Foot melanoma frequently occurs in the skin that’s exposed while wearing sandals on a sunny day. Foot melanoma if diagnosed at an early stage is treatable, but it is often diagnosed late because people do not notice it. If it spreads, it can be life-threatening.
Signs & Symptoms of Foot Melanoma
- On the skin, melanoma looks like moles that continue to develop in different shape, size, and color.
- These moles also have uneven borders and asymmetrical sides.
- These moles are often brown in color, sometimes red, tan, or white and also blue or black.
- They tend to have a combination of colors instead of having one solid color like most moles.
- Melanoma can also occur in your toenail and is most common in the big toes of your feet.
- The cancerous cells underneath the nails can look like purple, brown, or black bruises.
- These also tend to look like dark streaks that grow vertically in the nail.
- Unlike nail injuries where the nail eventually grows out, these streaks don’t go away if they’re melanoma.
- Foot melanoma usually appears on the sole or under a toenail, but can also appear anywhere on the foot or ankle.
- Signs for foot melanoma includes scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule.
Causes of Foot Melanoma
Exposure to excessive sunlight (Ultraviolet ray’s) or tanning beds is the most common cause of foot melanoma. It can be intense UV radiation obtained during short periods, or lower amounts of radiation obtained over longer periods.
When there is skin changes on the foot and the concerned person approaches the dermatologist with his problem the doctor will first examine the area. He will then ask certain questions such as approximate date of the appearance of the lesion, any change in size & appearance, any sign of pain,bleeding etc.
The dermatologist will use a dermatoscope to see spots on the skin more clear The surgeon will also examine the spot to determine whether a biopsy is necessary. If a biopsy is performed and it reveals melanoma, the surgeon will discuss a treatment plan.
Treatment of Foot Melanoma
Treatment depends on the stage of diagnosis, as well as your overall health. When foot melanoma is diagnosed at an early stage, your doctor may simply cut out the mole and any skin immediately surrounding it. This method is called an excision. But in advanced cases, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, lymphadenectomy, radiation therapy may be required.
Whenever you go out in the sun, it is better to protect yourself from UV rays by applying sunscreen on areas unprotected by clothing or shoes, on the top of feet as well as soles. It is imperative to keep a check on all areas of the feet everyday, in order to detect any skin anomalies and get medical attention in case any unusual conditions appear.
Diagnosing cancer at Stage I greatly increases the chance of successful treatment. Everyone must practice strategies that aid in prevention of melanoma or at least help in its early detection, so that early treatment can be undertaken.