Self-Exams of Feet Can Catch Early Melanoma

Stay a step ahead of cancer with check for moles, freckles or spots, surgeons' group says

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Taking an extra 60 seconds to examine your feet when you clip your toenails could save your life, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Routine self-examination of feet can help detect deadly melanoma skin cancer at an early stage, when it's easiest to cure. Half of people diagnosed with melanoma of the foot die within five years, because the cancer had already spread through their bodies by the time it was diagnosed, the college said.

In cases where melanoma is detected early, 92 percent of patients are still alive after five years.

Doing routine checks of your feet increases the likelihood that you'll spot suspicious moles, freckles or other irregularities. The college recommends you focus on the three most common areas for foot melanoma: the soles, between the toes, and around or under the toenails.

See a doctor immediately if you notice a mole, freckle or spot that starts to change over the course of a month and becomes asymmetrical or changes its border, color, diameter, or elevation.

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, including areas that receive little sun exposure, such as the feet and ankles.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about melanoma.

SOURCE: American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, news release, August 2007

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