As the summer approaches, many people are thinking about tanning. Tanning has been become a cult phenomenon which spans from the teenagers to seniors. Tanning allows the person to become a beautiful bronze complexion which can be attractive and sometimes deadly. Over the last five years, I have seen an increase of melanoma and suspected melanomas from sun bathing.
Many patients have different markings on their feet which they were born with and are considered moles. But what happens when the patient comes in with a “mole” which started forming over 3 months. That terrifies the patient because the mass media has publicized melanoma as a deadly condition caused from exposure from the sun.
Melanomas are lesions that contain cells that produce melanin as their component that produces pigmentation in skin. These lesions go through a mutation where these cells grow out of control and invade the skin.
Many patients have come in the office with the similar scenario as described above. Patients will come in with a “mole” and ask what could it be? Many of these skin markings are dark and some do not have any color or pigmentation at all. Some are raised, flat and irregular in shape. If theses sign are present, you should see the specialist right away. Some of the lesions can be on the top of the foot, toes and bottom of the foot, these should be treated. Typically, I will ask if the patient has been exposed to the sun and also, I will ask if there has been a cancer diagnosed in the immediately. If the answers are YES, then I will recommend a biopsy. But, let me explain the word BIOPSY….This is minor procedure which allows the physician to get a definitive diagnosis of the condition. The word, BIOPSY, has always a connotation of being associated with CANCER and this is NOT TRUE. Once the report of the biopsy comes back to the office and definitive treatment can be implemented to address the skin condition. Many reports come back as a diagnosis of a “mole.” Some reports will come back as “melanoma and this may require a wider excision. This means a wider BIOPSY with good skin taken as biopsy to ensure no atypical cells have invaded the good skin. Melanomas are treatable and should be treated.
Preventative measures are using sun block on any part of the foot where the skin is exposed. Limit exposure to the sun. Avoid tanning beds and protect yourself. If there is a lesion on the foot, you should have it evaluated. The sun can be healthy but too much of a good thing is dangerous. If you have any questions or concerns regarding moles on your feet or ankles, then call our office located in Howell, NJ and make an appointment to have it evaluated.