May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is skin cancer awareness month. When we think of skin cancer we usually think of the leathery old woman in Florida who spends way too much time baking herself into skin cancer. To help share in skin cancer awareness here is some info on common skin cancers of the feet.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma begins as a small bump or plaque with a common history of cracking and bleeding. The can start similar to a corn or callus. This is the most common form of skin cancer in the feet. Most squamous cell carcinoma are local to the skin but some can spread throughout the body.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is associated with sun-exposed areas of the skin. It appears as pearly white areas of patchiness or raised skin. It can have leakage or crusting. It is generally associated with local skin damage and although rare, can become malignant.

Malignant Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can become deadly. It appears as a small dark spot resembling the common mole. These lesions can be found on the feet and toenails. Melanoma displays a deeper growth pattern, growing into the blood vessels and lymph system, making it one of the more deadly form of skin cancers. For this reason it is important to focus on identifying the ABCDs of Melanoma.

ABCDs of melanoma

  • A: Asymmetry
    • If it is a perfect circle, it’s less likely to be melanoma. Melanoma is usually asymmetric.
  • B: Borders
    • Melanoma usually presents with uneven borders with an unclear differentiation between good skin and the lesion in question
  • C: Color
    • Not one color is good or bad. Black skin lesions are not always malignant, depending on skin tone. Color refers more to the different colors within the lesion. If it is motley in appearence, it has a higher probability of malignancy.
  • D: Diameter
    • 6mm is the standard cut off for malignant vs. benign diameters. Greater than 6mm (or roughly the diameter of a pencil eraser) is more likely malignant.

Podiatrists have a unique skill at identifying skin abnormalities in the feet and lower extremities. They can help identify and diagnose any questionable skin lesions. One manner to differentiate malignant from benign skin lesions is by way of a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy can be as simple as a small punch of the skin encompassing the lesion. This is usually done in office with local anesthetic to numb the area. Either one small stitch or a simple dressing is all that is needed after the biopsy.

By quickly identifying the type of lesion in question, medical or surgical intervention can give the best outcomes for dealing with these skin cancers.



For more information regarding skin cancers and foot pathology please contact:

Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw

Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands

9191 Pinecroft Dr #225

The Woodlands, TX 77380


About the Author:
Dr. Vaclaw is committed to serving this community and understands the importance of educating patients on conditions as well as specific treatment plans for his patients’ needs. He is dedicated to pursuing the latest medical and surgical procedures in order to give his patients the care and attention they deserve. Dr. Vaclaw is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Texas State Podiatric Medical Association, and the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.