What’s the most common type of cancer in the United States? Did you guess lung? Breast? Prostate? The correct answer is skin cancer – specifically, melanoma. Melanoma can spread quickly and be life-threatening – but if it’s caught early, it’s treatable with very good outcomes.
The foot connection
Melanoma of the foot can be one of the deadliest kinds of all — not because cancer cells go crazier on feet, but because no one’s actually looking for it. People just don’t examine their feet for signs of cancer as much as they do other parts of the body; and so, melanoma on the foot often gets overlooked until it’s too late to cure.
Inspect and protect
You can help reverse the upward incidence of deadly melanoma in the U.S. by personally taking steps to prevent it. Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey, the podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland, offer you these tips for protecting your feet from the dangers of melanoma:
- Get to know your own skin. Make a habit of checking over your whole body, including your feet and ankles (remember to check the skin on the bottom of your feet and in between your toes). Be on the lookout for new moles, changes to existing moles, or just any kind of spot that you didn’t see before. Use the ABCDE method and look for Asymmetry; uneven Borders; changes in Color; a Diameter greater than 6 millimeters (.236 inches); and some sort of change or Evolution in shape, color, texture, or size.
- Cover up. There’s only one risk factor for getting melanoma that you can actually control, and that’s your exposure to ultraviolet light. When enjoying time outdoors this season, cover your skin with light clothing, hat, and shoes – or stay in the shade.
- Always use sunscreen. When you can’t avoid the sun, protect yourself from its UV rays by using sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. And don’t forget to include the skin on your feet!
- Stay away from tanning beds. The sun isn’t the only source of dangerous UV rays. Tanning beds are an even greater danger, emitting up to 15 times more radiation than the sun. Just say no.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month – so start practicing these 4 tips now, and by August, it’ll be second nature. Remember, catching melanoma early on vastly improves your chances of survival. Be vigilant, don’t forget to include your feet, and don’t delay contacting us if you find something suspicious. Our number in Solon, Ohio is (440) 903-1041.