Stop What You’re Doing and Take Off Your Shoes
I’m a doctor and I hate going to the doctor.
I made an appointment at a dermatology clinic affiliated with my hospital. My dermatologist entered the room a moment later.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
Unfortunately, he saw something. It wasn’t obviously cancer, It was small and dark, and had irregular borders like someone had dropped a dollop of ink onto my foot. As he examined the three-millimeter lesion, I tried to read the look on his face. Was he worried? I imagined what face I’d make if I saw cancer, or if I didn’t.
“Melanoma?” I asked. “Does it look like melanoma?”
He shook his head and said, “I can’t tell what it is.”
It turns out the sole of the foot is a clandestine hot spot for skin cancer. Recent studies of melanoma on the feet have shown a higher frequency of a genetic mutation in a gene called c-Kit, which makes a protein that’s a key player in cell growth. Lying on that butcher paper, I started to wonder what my c-Kit gene looked like.
Eventually, the dermatologist was instructed to return to his clinic in a year, and to call the office if the shape, color, or size of the small thing on my foot changed. I checked it every month and thankfully, it didn’t change. Or so I thought.
When I returned for my follow-up appointment this January, the doctor noticed that the shape was different. I examine at least a dozen patients a day, performing a skin exam on all of them, and I couldn’t appreciate the change. But he could. He took a picture of the lesion and asked me to come back in just three months. If it changes again, he’s going to cut it out of me.
If you see something, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. And if you don’t see something, you should still make an appointment. I certainly wouldn’t have noticed that thing on my foot. And even when I knew about it, I still couldn’t tell that it was changing potentially in a way that might one day kill me.
RIVERA FOOT & ANKLE: At Orlando H.Rivera DPM, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. When you have problems with your feet, you need to turn to a podiatrist who listens and responds… an experienced doctor who knows the field and can effectively diagnose and treat your needs… a friendly physician who counsels you on the best ways to maintain and improve your health. Our physician(s) meet all these criteria. Plus, you benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
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