It’s true: People have been diagnosed with melanoma on the BOTTOM of a toe–a place that’s almost always in total darkness.
How the heck is this possible?
“Yes, melanoma can exist anywhere,” says Rebecca Baxt, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NJ.
How does melanoma end up on the bottom of a person’s toe?
Dr. Baxt explains, “No one understands it completely. Even where the sun doesn’t shine. There are causes that we don’t fully understand.
“We know that sunburn is a risk factor and that ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer, but we don’t know why these cancers occur all over the body.”
For women, the highest risk area of developing this deadly skin cancer is on the calves and back of the legs, and for men, the highest risk area is the back.
“If it were just about sun exposure, you would think all the skin cancers would be on the face and arms, but that’s not true,” adds Dr. Baxt.
Do skin exams once a month, and check everywhere, including the bottom of your toes, since the “seeds” for melanoma may have been planted during childhood sun exposure to the bottom of your toes while you were playing outside barefoot or lying beside the pool.
How to Check the Feet for Melanoma
Your feet, along with the rest of your skin, should be self-inspected every month for suspicious signs of cancer.
Use a hand mirror and position it under your foot and toes.
If you’re flexible enough, place your foot in the bathroom sink while standing on the other foot.
Place the mirror under your foot and toes. People who practice yoga or martial arts will have no problem doing this.
Don’t hesitate to ask your partner to inspect your feet and under the toes for signs of melanoma which include a dark spot that was never there before, or a pre-existing mole that’s getting bigger or changing shape.
Dr. Baxt is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at NYU and a member of the Skin Cancer Foundation. She also specializes in laser treatments, skin rejuvenation procedures, acne treatment and rosacea treatment.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.