May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer. It’s fast-growing. It’s more likely than other types of skin cancer to metastasize – that is, to invade other parts of your body. Feet are no strangers to skin cancer, including melanoma. Fairfax County board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm wants to remind our patients to get into the habit of looking for changes in their feet that may indicate cancer. Use the alphabet to help you look for moles or other lesions with:
Asymmetry – an irregular shape
Borders – are its edges jagged or uneven?
Colors – there may be a variety of browns, blacks, whites, blues, and reds.
Diameter – cancerous lesions measure the same as a pencil eraser or larger.
Evolution – has the mole changed in some way (for example, in size or color)?
Firmness – does the mole feel hard?
Growth – have you noticed the mole getting larger?
Using the ABCDEFG method is equally helpful to detect other skin cancers that affect your feet, such as squamous cell carcinoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma. So, May is a great month to get into the habit of checking your feet and getting to know what’s normal. Check them once a month or more to detect changes early. The earlier you catch skin cancer, the better your chances of beating it.
Skin cancer prevention
One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer on your feet is to apply suntan lotion. People often overlook their feet when slathering the rest of their bodies with SPF 30. Don’t forget to protect this important body part from the sun’s harmful rays.
Of course, as mentioned above, early detection of suspicious lesions is also important. Bring any concerns about the skin on your feet to Dr. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. Call our Centreville, Virginia, office at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online.