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Dangers of melanoma in your feet

August 9, 2012 1:29:01 PM PDT
When you catch melanoma early, you can cure it completely. When you don't, it can be deadly.

And you may be surprised to learn that you can get skin cancer anywhere on your body, even on your feet.

When Richard Pribyl saw a dark spot on the bottom of his foot, like most people he thought it was nothing.

"At first I thought maybe I had walked on a leaky magic marker on the floor or something and stained the bottom of my foot," he said.

But that spot turned out to be melanoma. He says everyone he told couldn't believe it.

"They all thought i was like kidding around and making a joke and like who has, who gets it on the bottom of your foot," adds Pribyl.

But in fact you can get skin cancer on your feet.

Dr. Bryan Markinson, Chief of Podiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says it's often diagnosed late because people ignore it or it's misdiagnosed.

"We see it mostly on the bottom of the foot. That's where it occurs most often. The common ones on feet start out as flat, pigmented lesions that slowly enlarge in a horizontal fashion," he adds.

And when you think of skin cancer you think of sun exposure but it's important to know melanoma can occur in places where the sun never shines.

The reason why is not fully understood. But that's why it's important to look everywhere even at your feet and in between your toes and if you see anything unusual have it checked out.

"Anything that has delayed healing should raise a high index of suspicion and a biopsy must be performed," adds Dr. Markinson.

Melanoma can also occur in the toenail.

It often looks like a dark streak, something most of us would ignore. People often think, "I stubbed my toe and that's just blood or a bruise", but it may be melanoma.

Not every dark streak is cancer, but you need a biopsy to figure it out.

So the next time you clip your toenails or put your socks on, take a closer look at your feet. It only takes 30 seconds and it could save your life.

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