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What is Foot Cancer?

Foot Cancer

Foot cancer is a condition characterized by the formation of lesions, cysts, or outgrowths in the feet due to the uncontrolled multiplication of cells. There are many types of foot cancer; some are localized while others are widespread.

Types of Foot Cancer

Some of the common types of foot cancer are:

Malignant Melanoma: This is a type of skin cancer that can develop anywhere on the body including parts of the feet such as the heels or toenails. It originates in the melanocytes (skin cells that produce melanin pigments that protect the body from harmful UV rays) and is likely caused by a combination of UV light exposure, genetics, and environmental factors. The symptoms include:

  • Moles that vary in shape, size, and texture
  • Unusual sores that do not heal
  • Redness over the affected area
  • Loss of sensation
  • Itching
  • Pigmentation spreading from the lesions
  • Bleeding

Bone cancer: This form of foot cancer originates in the bone-forming cells of the foot and may spread to other tissues. Types of bone cancer include osteosarcoma and chondrosarcoma. Bone cancer may be caused due to genetic mutation, radiation, and injury to the bones. The symptoms include:

  • Pain that gets worse with walking
  • Foot swelling
  • Night fever
  • Frequent bone injury
  • Weak bones

Basal Cell Carcinoma: This cancer is mainly seen on skin surfaces that are exposed to the sun. It is a less aggressive form of cancer. The cancer lesions appear as white bumps with oozing and crust formation or form open sores.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common type of foot cancer. In the early stages, the cancer is limited to the skin, but as the condition progresses, it spreads throughout the body, forming small bumps or lesions that bleed.

Diagnosis of Foot Cancer

Cancers of the foot and ankle are very rare and can be difficult to diagnose. Podiatrists are best qualified to accurately diagnose the condition. Diagnosis would involve:
  • Physical examination of the lumps or lesions, noting size, shape, and pigmentation.
  • Obtaining a biopsy of the lesion and examining under a microscope to determine the presence of abnormally multiplying cells.
  • Imaging tests such as CT and MRI scan to detect the spread of cancer to other parts.
  • Blood and urine tests to detect the presence of certain proteins that may indicate cancer.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, which involves injecting a small amount of radioactive sugar that is absorbed by the cancer cells, as these cells utilize more glucose than normal cells.

Treatment for Foot Cancer

Treatment for foot cancer is based on the type and site of the cancer cells. The most common treatment includes:

  • Surgery: It involves complete or partial removal of the cancerous tumor. Your doctor will use sophisticated techniques to remove the lesion while minimizing injury to surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Chemotherapy: Anti-cancer drugs will be delivered intravenously to destroy the cancer cells if complete surgical removal of the cancer is not possible.
  • Radiation Therapy: It involves the use of high-powered beams of energy or ionizing radiation targeted at your foot to destroy the cancerous cells. This treatment shrinks the tumor and could make surgical excision of the tumor easier.

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