Cancerous lesions on feet

Nov 29, 2021

Here in Queensland, we are all aware (or should be!) of the dangers of skin cancers. 

For many of us, regular skin checks with a doctor or dermatologist are a habit – and with our climate, a good habit to have. However, not everyone is aware of the risks of skin cancers on feet, both on the top surface and especially underneath feet. 

While sunburn on the tops of feet is no surprise, we don’t expect skin cancers to happen underneath feet – that bit doesn’t get any sun exposure, how can it get cancer? Here’s the thing – anyone who has ever laid on their tummy to get a bit of sun on their back, has given the soles of their feet a dose of UV. For the generations who liked to bake themselves brown, before we understood the link between cancer and sunburn, the possibility of damage cannot be ruled out. It only takes one bad burn to do damage, and accumulated mild burns will cause just as many problems. 

This was recently brought home to me very dramatically; a client had presented with an unusual lesion underneath her foot. Both myself and another podiatrist advised a visit to the dermatologist to have the lesion more closely examined, but sadly, the client delayed over 6 months before seeking a specialist opinion. When she finally saw the dermatologist, the news was the worst – the lesion was a melanoma, which had spread. 

This is by no means an everyday occurrence, but the implications are so serious, is it worth the risk? 

Lumps and bumps, roughened or dark spots are quite common on feet as we age, and not every spot is dangerous. Here is a list of things to watch out for:

  • Obviously, any dark lesion, if it has irregular edges, a rough surface, growing or changing shape, should be a cause for concern
  • While small white, dry spots can just be solar keratosis, if they start to grow, become scaly, get itchy, or bleed, then they should be checked
  • Any area which does repeatedly become crusty or bleeds and refuses to heal and go away should be reviewed – these can be early signs of carcinoma
  • Spots on nails are usually harmless, but dark, longitudinal stripes that continue to grow with the nail or cause deformity of the nail should be checked

As podiatrists, we are one of the most highly trained experts in lesions affecting the feet after a dermatologist. We can help identify concerning lesions, monitor and manage, and let you know when further action should be taken. If you have a strange spot, something that won’t heal, or just want a check, please come in and ask us – better safe than sorry!