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Posts for tag: Skin Cancer

By Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman
May 22, 2014
Category: Skin Problems
Tags: Skin Cancer   Melanoma   Basil Cell  

 

Skin Cancer AwarenessMay is cancer awareness month.  I will make no wisecracks or puns in this blog.  I feel confident in the following statement:  You would be hard pressed to find an individual who has no relative or friend not touched by some form of cancer.  Because of its prevalence, it is extremely important to be aware.  What do I mean?  Know your family history, examine your skin daily, and follow up with your doctors for your appropriate physicals and exams.

I will not discuss all forms of cancer.  The most common that we see with our naked eye is skin cancer:  Melanoma, Squamous Cell, and Basal Cell.

  • Basal Cell:  MOST COMMON.  Originates from the lowest portion of the epidermis.
  • Squamous Cell:  Not as common but is more likely to spread and become life threatening.  Originates from the middle layer of the epidermis.
  • Melanoma:  Least common but MOST AGGRESSIVE.  Originates from the pigment producing cells (Melanocytes).

What should we know and be on the lookout for in regards to skin cancer?  The ABC’s. 

  • A – Asymmetry:  one half of the lesion does not match the other half.
  • B – Borders:  the borders of the lesion are irregular, blurred, or notched.
  • C – Color:  the color of the lesion is not the same all over.  Shades of tan, brown, or black may be present.  Melanomas may even show reds OR blues.
  • D – Diameter:  the lesion is larger than ¼”.  Melanomas could be smaller.
  • E – Evolution:  has the lesion changed in size, shape, color, or elevation.  Does the lesion itch or bleed.

The foot is not the most common place for skin cancer, but it can occur.  Melanoma can present as a black, longitudinal, band/stripe on the nail.  This black band is known as the Hutchinson sign and needs to be taken seriously.  This is more common in the African American population. 

This is not meant to make you paranoid about your skin.  My only goal is to arm you with knowledge and an understanding of the importance of knowing your body.

If you have noticed some skin lesions that are worrisome OR have any foot/ankle related concerns, please contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit www.houstonfootspecialists.com.

Photo Credit: Michal Marcol via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Very few celebrities do I consider worth the public's praise. Most overindulge in lavishness and ruin their god-given talents by destroying their bodies through drugs and riotous living. Although he was far from perfect, Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley is one of the few celebrity figures I admire.

Why am I bringing up Bob Marley? May is skin cancer awareness month and May 11th marks the 32nd anniversary of Marley's death. Marley succumbed to a type of cancer that was first identified underneath one of his toenails.

In 1977 his toenail was identified as having acral lentiginous melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can display in the feet and toes. It was originally thought that the discolored, red toenail was due to a football injury earlier that year. This was refuted and identified to be a skin lesion from an already existing cancer. Marley was encouraged to have his toe amputated to prevent any further spread of the disease. Marley declined such treatment citing religious beliefs. At this point in the legend's life, he was world famous and was traveling all over Europe and the U.S. on tours. One of my favorite songs "Redemption Song" is said to be Marley's coming to terms with the end of his life. Marley's final concert was in Pittsburg, PA in September 1980 before his health deteriorated and he sought cancer treatment in Germany. For 8 months he battled cancer without success. At terms with his mortality, Marley boarded a plane for Jamaica. On May 11th, 1981, while en route to his homeland, Marley's vital signs deteriorated and his plane was forced to land in Miami, Florida. The cancer had spread to his lungs and brain. At 36 years old, the Reggae Rastafarian died. His final words to his son Ziggy were, "Money can't buy life".

The importance of taking care of each and every little health concern is of utmost importance. Even something as lowly as the foot can merit some attention. An amputated toe could've extended the life and legacy of Bob Marley.

For many Podiatry patients today, the risk of amputation remains high. It must be understood that amputation can often avoid further complications, poor quality of life and even death. With modern prosthetic and biomechanic advancements, amputation of digits, feet and limbs doesn't require major lifestyle changes. Many patients can carry on with their everyday life with small and simple changes.

Marley attempted to sing the music OF the people, not for the people. He wanted to be the voice of many. There are many things he represented that I do not agree with, but his unmatched sound, style and stance make him worthy of tribute.

If you are concerned about skin cancer or have dark nails contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or for online appointments go to www.houstonfootspecialists.com.

©2013 Jeff Bowman., All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Michal Marcol via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 is 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 forms 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 appearance, 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.

As always, never self-diagnose and always consult with your physician before seeking medical treatment. Dr. Bowman has the training and personal experiences with helping patients diagnoses and treat these issues. Dr. Bowman can be contacted at 713-467-8886 or online for more information or online appointments at www.houstonfootspecialists.com.

©2013 Jeff Bowman., All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: artur84 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pedicures have grown in popularity over the years. Now that its spring, a lot of women break out the sandals and want those toes looking good. Gel nail polish is all the rage. Why? It lasts up to two weeks, or longer, without chipping and peeling.  After the salon applies the polish it has to dry in UV light to cure.  That is the danger.

The UV light is blamed for an increased risk of skin cancer.  The skin cancer is usually found around the tissue surrounding the nail or on the toes, but can affect the whole foot. If skin cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be performed.  The most common form of skin cancer in this area is squamous cell carcinoma.

If a patient insists on getting a gel nail polish pedicure, Dr. Bowman recommends the patient apply sunscreen to the feet that is SPF 50 or higher at least 30 minutes prior to the salon appointment.

It is always a good idea to check your feet for any new growths and check between the toes as well.  If you notice something new or that has changed, see your podiatrist right away.

Contact Dr. Bowman if you have any questions or concerns at 713-467-8886 or visit our website.



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Podiatrist - Houston, Houston Foot Specialists, 1140 Business Center Drive, Houston TX, 77043 713-467-8886