With the sun shining a day or two shy of 365 days a year in Phoenix metro anytime of year may require sunscreen. Sunscreen? Why sunscreen? Apart from the added benefit of not looking like a lobster the next day, sunscreen shields us from powerful UV rays. The UV rays are damaging to the cells in our skin and are a known cause of skin cancers among other disorders. Applying sunscreen is a great defense against these skin cancers, but how often do you apply sunscreen to your feet? It is important to remember that skin cancer is not selective, it can occur wherever there is sun exposure. Living in Arizona where the shining sun is part of our everyday lives, it is important to protect yourself, including your feet.
What does skin cancer look like anyway? Well, there are a few different types of skin cancer, but for the most part it will come from an existing mole or may even appear de-novo, meaning anew. Melanoma is one of the worst skin cancers because of its ability to spread throughout the body. When examining a mole keep in mind these guidelines to give you an idea whether or not to see a doctor.
A – Is the mole asymmetrical? Non-cancerous moles are usually symmetrical or the same throughout.
B - Is the border irregular? Even, smooth, circumscribed edges are a good sign for non-cancerous moles.
C – Is there a color differences within the mole? Non-cancerous moles are usually a single brown or tan while cancerous moles appear uneven color distribution of blue, black, brown or tan.
D – What is the diameter of the mole? Cancerous moles are usually bigger then the size of a pencil eraser.
E – Evolution, has the mole gone through any changes in color or size recently? This is important because a non-cancerous mole can progress into cancer with added UV damage.
It is important that if you suspect skin cancer from any of these changes above to see your doctor right away. From there the doctor can further investigate the potential problem and provide the correct treatment. Treatment of skin cancer typically involves removing the cancerous, or pre-cancerous mole.
While not all skin cancer is aggressive as melanoma, understanding your ABCDE’s could save your life, or someone you love. Checking your skin and previous moles is the first step. Then applying sunscreen on all sun-exposed skin, including your feet will decease your risk for skin cancer. If you notice any changes in their foot health, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.