Raising Awareness for Skin Cancer on Your Feet


At NY Foot Health we believe strongly in educating patients about podiatric conditions and ways to prevent them. During the month of May, we recognize Skin Cancer Awareness Month and want to share some facts about skin cancer and your feet. Over 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, making it the most common form of cancer. Fortunately, it’s one of the most preventable kinds of cancer as well.

On My Feet?!

If that’s your reaction to a discussion about skin cancer on your feet, you’re not alone. Many people don’t think about their feet as a possible site for this disease. While it’s true that your feet do not receive as much exposure to the sun as skin on other parts of your body, it is just as susceptible to damage when it is exposed. Flip-flops and open sandals can result in a bad sunburn and raise your risk of skin cancer. If you are at the beach or pool for the day, it’s important the you put sunscreen on the tops and bottoms of your feet and that you reapply it every two hours or after swimming. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher. Keep feet covered or seek shade during the hours of 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Also, never use UV tanning beds.

Not Just a Sun Problem

Not all skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, however. Certain environmental factors such as pollutants or contact with strong chemicals can result in skin damage that can lead to cancer. Also, people with certain medical conditions can have a reduced ability to eliminate damaged cells in the body and suppress the body’s defenses against malignancies. These include:

  • Some viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or HIV

  • Immune deficiencies

  • Organ transplants that require immune-suppressing drugs

One form of skin cancer not caused by the sun—acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM)—is most often found on the soles of the feet, under nails and on the palms of the hands.

It’s essential to be diligent about inspecting your toenails, the tops and bottoms of your feet and the spaces between your toes (as well as the skin on the rest of your body) for spots or changes that may indicate a possible skin cancer. Report any unusual moles or freckles that seem to be growing or changing to your podiatrist promptly. Need to find a podiatrist? We can help with our online directory.

For more information about skin cancer or other conditions that affect your podiatric health, contact us.