To the surprise of many, the skin and bones of the foot can become inflicted with a variety of cancers, just like any other part of the human body. Here are some of the more common types of cancer than can affect the feet:
Giant cell tumors:
Giant cell tumors are benign, firm, irregular masses that form on the toes, top or side of the foot, or deep inside the foot. The tumors grow in the tendon sheath that protects the tendon. They are typically painful as they slowly grow larger over time. Giant cell tumors are uncommon and are usually benign.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a type of cancer that causes red, purple, or brown lesions on the skin due to abnormal tissue growth beneath the skin. It can strike anywhere on the body, including the skin of the feet. The disease can cause extreme pain at the lesion sites or result in no symptoms other than the noticeable discolorations.
In the lower extremities and groin area, Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions may be accompanied by painful swelling. Kaposi’s sarcoma, also known as KS, can advance slowly; however, in the presence of HIV/ AIDS, the disease spreads quickly. If the cancer spreads to the lungs or digestive tract, it can cause bleeding. In the lungs, breathing can become restricted.
Malignant melanoma, or skin cancer: Since the feet are covered up most of the time, they are often overlooked when screening for skin cancer. In addition to the harsh rays of the sun, skin cancer can develop from factors such as exposure to chemicals or radiation, a history of skin cancer in the family or in the individual on other parts of the body, and skin that is susceptible to moles. As spots or growths crop up on the skin or change shape or color, they should be immediately checked by a doctor, no matter where they appear on the body.
Precancerous lesions can be removed before they turn cancerous. With skin cancer, early detection is crucial for curing it. Malignant melanomas make up over 60% of deaths due to skin cancer, even though this type of cancer is accountable for only one percent of all skin cancers. About three percent of melanomas form on the feet.
Neoplastic disorders: Neoplastic disorders are benign or malignant neoplasms or tumors that develop from abnormal tissue growth.
Osteochondromas: Osteochondromas occur underneath the toenail when benign bone tumors form in that area, typically after injury. Most common in children and young adults, osteochondromas account for approximately 50% of all benign bone tumors. Most of the time, osteochondromas do not cause pain; however, discomfort can result if they irritate surrounding tissue. If osteochondromas deform the toenail or cause it to become ingrown, they can be surgically removed. Osteochondromas can become a recurring condition and on rare occasion, can become malignant.
Plantar fibroma: Plantar fibromas, or tumors, grow on the plantar, or bottom surface of the foot, in the same area of the foot where plantar warts develop. They are benign tumors that form in the tissue of the plantar fascia, whereas plantar warts form on the skin. Plantar fibromas that worsen or become painful may be surgically removed.