Can Podiatrists Detect Cancer?
Most people who visit us at Beauchamp Foot Care are looking for help with common foot ailments and pain. However, a visit to a podiatrist can actually help to spot other more serious issues that could affect not just your foot health, but your overall well-being.
One of the conditions that a podiatrist can look for when carrying out a regular foot examination is cancer, or at least indications of its possible development that suggest a referral to a medical practitioner would be advisable. Many people are unaware that they can get cancer in their feet. However, there are several cancers which may occasionally occur in the toes or feet. These include skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.
How Can I Get Skin Cancer On My Feet?
You might be wondering how it’s possible to develop skin cancer in your feet, especially if you cover them up with shoes and socks for most of the year. However, exposure to the sun isn’t the only factor involved. There are some kinds of cancer which have a genetic link. Others develop because of exposure to particular chemicals, while factors such as having a lot of moles, excessive exposure to radiation or having suffered from a previous case of skin cancer also have a role to play.
Also, whenever we are outdoors on sunny days we have a habit of overlooking our feet. While we usually remember to apply plenty of suntan lotion to our faces and arms when out in the sunshine, it can be all too easy to forget to cover our feet and ankles with sunscreen if we are wearing sandals or flip flops. That means our lower extremities are much more at risk of harm from UV rays than many other parts of the body.
Many people ignore moles or spots if they don’t experience any pain. However, just because there is no bleeding or pain doesn’t mean that it isn’t skin cancer. If you go to a foot specialist straight away as soon as you notice a change on your feet or toes, many lesions which are precancerous can be diagnosed accurately, and therefore treated before they ever become malignant.
Can Skin Cancer On The Feet Be Prevented?
It’s always wise to limit the amount of exposure to the sun your feet receive. Always apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20 whenever you are outside with your ankles and feet exposed. Whenever possible, avoid wearing flip flops and instead opt for water shoes which cover more of the foot. If you visit your podiatrist regularly, you can be confident that any potentially cancerous lesions will be spotted at a very early stage, allowing for rapid treatment.
Should I Check My Feet For Changes?
It’s advisable to take steps to check your body regularly for signs of any changes. This includes examining your feet. Look for any moles which have changed or spots which appear unusual between your toes, on your heels, underneath you toenails such as a thick black line, and on the soles of your feet. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your podiatrist right away:
- Discolourations – any purple, red, white, black or brown spots
- Any irregularly shaped moles
- Any spots that ooze, itch or bleed
- Foul-smelling warts
- Bruises or sores which don’t heal
- Scaly, dry patches
- Rapidly growing corn tissue or abnormal new tissue growth
There is no need to panic if you spot any of these signs. Just give us a call at Beauchamp Foot Care and we can offer you an appointment to check it out.
What Happens When I See A Podiatrist?
When you visit our London foot clinic, our highly trained podiatrists will investigate your concerns thoroughly. They will carry out a thorough examination and, if necessary, refer you to your GP who may arrange for a skin biopsy to be taken for testing in the laboratory. In the unlikely event that the lesion is suspected to be skin cancer, your doctor will recommend the most appropriate action for you. We can also refer you to The Cancer Dietician, a specialist in nutrition who can offer helpful dietary advice to help improve your physical and mental well-being throughout your diagnosis and treatment.
Although you may be worried about skin cancer, the good news is that skin cancer, including melanoma, of the feet is rare. Visiting your podiatrist about any concerns you have at an early stage is the best way to put your worries to rest or to spot any problems at an early stage so that steps can be taken as quickly as possible to prevent long-term problems.