Malignant diseases of the foot (cancers) occur relatively rarely. Nevertheless, information about the development, symptoms and therapy is of great importance and significance. The following article is to be published on the occasion of the World Cancer Day on 4.2. provide a brief insight.
Fear term tumor
Sometimes it is the case that one visits the doctor because of a tumor or swelling, who then makes the diagnosis ‘soft tissue tumor’. At this moment the world breaks down for many affected persons. However, the Latin term tumor means nothing more than lump and says absolutely nothing about benignity or malignancy. In the vast majority of cases, tumors in the area of the foot are benign and harmless (in ca. 99% of all cases!).
In the population, however, the medical term tumor is very often erroneously associated directly with a malignant disease. This often leads to great anxiety.
Therefore my request: Do not panic immediately when hearing the term tumor!
What are the benign tumors?
Benign foot tumors are, for example, the so-called Morton neuroma. This is a painful thickening of the nerves. Tendon ganglion, an irritation of the tendon, is also referred to as a benign tumor. A thickening, or. Swelling on the sole of the foot is usually caused by a benign soft tissue lesion of the plantar tendon. Their medical term is Fibromatosis plantaris or Morbus Ledderhose. In the case of bony tumors, so-called exostoses or pseudexostoses can be responsible for the benign bone proliferation.
Malignant cancers of the human foot
As already mentioned, malignant diseases of the human foot (carcinomas) rarely occur.
The following data and numbers refer to the foot area.
Basically, malignancies (cancers) are roughly divided into soft tissue carcinomas and bone carcinomas.
Soft tissue sarcomas of the foot
Soft tissue sarcomas develop from the tissue of tendons, muscles (rhabdomyosaroma, leiomyosarcoma), joint capsules, fat cells or the connective tissue (leiosarcoma).
The incidence of new cases is estimated to be 2- 3/ 100.000 inhabitants in relation to the whole body. The foot area, in turn, accounts for only a fraction.
The progressive growth of the sarcoma causes pressure on the surrounding healthy tissue due to an increase in volume. This leads to pain and reduced blood supply to the tissue. If the disease is already very advanced and the cancer has already metastasized, weakness, night fever, loss of appetite and severe weight loss may occur.
Therapy depends on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. While surgery is usually sufficient in the early stages to achieve a cure, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are added in the advanced stages.
Malignant disease of the skin
This includes above all malignant melanoma (black skin cancer). It is the most aggressive of the malignant skin diseases. This is due to their tendency to spread metastases very early via blood and lymph channels. If detected too late, it is usually fatal. Due to climatic changes, the incidence of new cases is increasing dramatically: ca. doubled every 7 years (!) the number of patients.
In Europe and North America, the incidence of new cases is estimated at 13- 15/100.000 inhabitants.
Malignant melanoma is most common in countries with high sun intensity, such as Australia or New Zealand.
Malignant melanoma is mainly caused by exposure to sunlight or sunburn. UV-radiation (also solarium) caused. Of particular importance here is childhood: the more frequently and intensively the skin is exposed to the sun at this age, the more likely it is that a malignancy will form in adulthood.
So please protect your children from too long and frequent sunbathing!
The main symptom of malignant melanoma is a brownish-black to black skin change. Occasionally, there is also increased itching and bleeding in this area. The fact that malignancy has very few symptoms in the early stages is what makes it so insidious. If symptoms such as weight loss, severe deterioration of the general condition, etc. then occur, they can have serious consequences. If the cancer is too advanced, it has already reached an advanced stage with a poor prognosis.
Here again, the therapy depends on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, the tumor can be removed by surgery and the patient can be cured. In the late stages, chemotherapy and radiotherapy must also be used.
So: early detection is crucial!
My recommendation: have your skin screened regularly by a dermatologist every 2 years as part of early detection!
The cost of cancer screening is covered by health insurance in some cases.
The fight against cancer – We can all do something!
The UICC (Union internationale contre le cancer / International Association against Cancer) warns: Every year more than 12 million people develop cancer and more than 7 million die from the disease. It is estimated that about 26 million people will be diagnosed with the disease by 2030, of which about 17 million are expected to die.
In 2006, World Cancer Day was launched. On this day, we should not only remember the many people affected by cancer, but also those who have dedicated their lives to the fight against this insidious disease. This year the world cancer day takes place under the slogan: "We can. I can." instead. This is a reminder that everyone can contribute.
For many years, the German Cancer Aid has been a milestone in the fight against cancer. Their tasks include providing information, helping those affected and promoting research into causes and therapies.
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Thank you for your interest and support.
Your Adem Erdogan
About the Author:
Adem Erdogan is one of Germany’s leading foot surgeons. His extensive experience in both the diagnostic and surgical fields enables him to take an individual approach to each patient. In his practice in Dusseldorf he treats foot deformities and malformations.