Yes – You Can Get Skin Cancer on Your Feet!


How many of us consider that it might be possible to get skin cancer on our feet? Not only are our feet vulnerable to dangerous skin cancers caused by cumulative ultraviolet (UV) sun damage.

There are other causes of foot skin cancer including:

  • Environmental factors such as car exhaust and other pollutants and chemical burns

  • Viral infections like human papillomavirus (HPV) or an immune deficiency such as HIV. These can lower your body’s ability to fight malignancies.

  • Genetics – those with light eyes and fair skin have less melanin in the skin, a pigment that helps absorb harmful radiation.

How To Recognize Melanoma Skin Cancer on the Feet

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and can even be fatal. An acral lentiginous melanoma growth that can appear on the palms, under the nails and on the soles of the feet, is not even caused by sun exposure.

Many skin cancers grow horizontally across the surface of the skin, and therefore don’t usually affect your organs. But melanoma extends deeper and may eventually reach the blood vessels and lymph system, allowing the cancer to spread further. 

Would you be able to spot skin cancer? Melanoma has another name – the “Great Masquerader” – because it may appear to be a bruise, mole, ingrown nail, blood blister, ulcer or plantar wart. This skin cancer may begin as a small, black-brown bump or spot, or it may look red or pink.

One hint that a mole may really be cancerous is its appearance. If it is larger than ¼ inch across, has uneven borders or changes color, you may be dealing with a melanoma.

You Can Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn how to recognize the signs of skin cancer on the feet.

First of all, inspect your feet daily. Look at the tops, bottoms (use a mirror if necessary), toes, and toenails and between the toes. If you see anything unusual, please call us for an evaluation appointment as soon as possible.

Take precautions to protect your skin from UV rays:

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF of 30 before going outside. Don’t forget your feet and toes! If you are lying in the sun, smooth onto the soles of your feet too.

  • Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially after swimming or sweating.

  • Protect yourself with a wide-brimmed hat, UV-absorbent sunglasses and tightly woven clothing.

  • Avoid the sun when it’s strongest, between 10 am and 4 pm.

Let Us Check Your Feet and Ankles for any Sign of Melanoma

Foot or toe pain is not normal! If you have any discomfort from an injury or just from overuse, please call Michele Kurlanski, DPM at Lighthouse Foot and Ankle Center. Dr. Kurlanski offers expert and professional podiatry services in Cumberland County, Maine. Please call us today at 207-774-0028 to schedule your appointment in our Scarborough office.