Malignant Melanoma of the Foot

Foot Facts

  • Each foot has 26 bones
  • There are more than 100 ligaments in each foot
  • Diabetes is the #1 cause for lower extremety amputation
  • A toenail takes 4-9 months to completely grow out
  • Pain in the feet is NOT normal

Surgery: YES OR NO????

  • Deciding whether or not to have surgery is a big decision. 
  • Our foot and ankle surgeons are skilled in both surgical and conservative options. 
  • We will present the options most suitable for you and help you with your decision.

How much pain should I be in before I make an appointment?

  • Foot pain is not normal.
  • Foot pain is a signal that something is not right.
  • Any degree of foot pain warrants an evaluation to determine the source of the pain and possible treatment options.
  • Most foot pain left untreated will get worse and become more difficult to cure.
  • If you have foot or ankle  pain, make an appointment, do not wait.

Will soaking cure my ingrown toenail?

  • Soaking an ingrown toenail will often make it feel better, but it will not cure it. 
  • The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, redness, and swelling.
  • An ingrown toenail is easily cured with a simple in office surgical procedure. 
  • The toe is anesthetized so that pain is not felt during the procedure.
  • The ingrown nail, or portion of the nail, is removed.
  • Most people feel no pain afterwards and return to normal activities the next day. 

What are orthotics?

  • Custom made foot arch supports designed to hold the foot in its optimum position
  • Can alleviate the discomfort caused by a number of foot conditions such as heel pain, bunions, and flat feet. 

Happy Feet...Happy Bride

happyComfortable footwear can help make the perfect day even better. Many times foot or ankle discomfort can be alleviated with appropriate shoes. It is not unusual for people to buy shoes that are too small for their feet. If your foot problem has an easy solution, our podiatrists will gladly provide you with that information. Sometimes the right shoe is not enough and custom-made orthotics is necessary to help the feet maintain the best position. Our podiatrists can utilize a three dimensional digital scan to have custom made inserts (orthotics) fabricated for your shoes, made from the scan of your feet to correct your specific foot abnormality and fit your feet only. If your foot or ankle problem can be resolved with conservative treatment, our podiatrists will advise you of the best treatment for you. There are times when the best solution for a foot or ankle problem is surgery. If you require foot or ankle surgery, our podiatrists can provide you with the latest state of the art surgical techniques. They will take the time to explain to you what to expect before, during and after surgery and will try to answer all your questions. Whatever your foot or ankle problem may be, our podiatrists will explain the various treatment options available to you. Everyone is happier when their feet are happy!

Thoughts on Celebrating 30+ Years

anniversarySome thoughts from Dr. Jacoby:
On April 30, 1984 I took over this podiatry practice. Elgin became my professional home as well as my personal home. I am forever grateful to Dr. Roger Hess who started this practice 50 years prior. Dr. Hess was a gentleman whom I admired and emulated both professionally and personally. I am forever honored to continue caring for the patients who initially trusted Dr. Hess.

My first office was at 860 Summit on the East Side of Elgin. I remember painting the office myself. I moved twice into larger space at 860 Summit. Eventually we outgrew the space there and moved to larger space at the Sherman Hospital Medical Building and then finally here to 750 Fletcher. I am grateful to the multitude of patients we have had the privilege of treating and that have kept us growing. I am also grateful to the multitude of other physicians in the area whom I am so privileged to work with.

Not only has this practice grown in physical space, but we have grown technologically as we offer many state of the art alternatives.  My staff has been and continues to be essential.  To all my staff, both past and present, I say a most sincere Thank You.

I look back on the years with much pride and sentimentality. I look forward to the future with the same enthusiasm and joy I felt on April 30, 1984. I love what I do and every day I realize how blessed I am to be in this wonderful profession!

What is Malignant Melanoma?
Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the cells of the skin that produce pigmentation (coloration). It is also called malignant melanoma because it spreads to other areas of the body as it grows beneath the surface of the skin. Unlike many other types of cancer, melanoma strikes people of all age groups, even the young.

 

Melanoma in the Foot
Melanoma that occurs in the foot or ankle often goes unnoticed during its earliest stage, when it would be more easily treated. By the time melanoma of the foot or ankle is diagnosed, it frequently has progressed to an advanced stage, accounting for a higher mortality rate. This makes it extremely important to follow prevention and early detection measures involving the feet as well as other parts of the body.

Causes
Most cases of melanoma are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds. This exposure can include intense UV radiation obtained during short periods, or lower amounts of radiation obtained over longer periods.

Anyone can get melanoma, but some factors put a person at greater risk for developing this type of cancer. These include:

  • Fair skin; skin that freckles; blond or red hair
  • Blistering sunburns before the age of 18
  • Numerous moles, especially if they appeared at a young age

What Should You Look For?
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin, even in areas of the body not exposed to the sun. Melanoma usually looks like a spot on the skin that is predominantly brown, black, or blue—although in some cases it can be mostly red or even white. However, not all areas of discoloration on the skin are melanoma.

There are four signs—known as the ABCDs of melanoma—to look for when self-inspecting moles and other spots on the body:

AsymmetryAsymmetry -- Melanoma is usually asymmetric, which means one half is different in shape from the other half.

BorderBorder -- Border irregularity often indicates melanoma. The border—or edge—is typically ragged, notched, or blurred.

ColorColor -- Melanoma is typically a mix of colors or hues, rather than a single, solid color.

DiameterDiameter -- Melanoma grows in diameter, whereas moles remain small. A spot that is larger than 5 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) is cause for concern.

If any of these signs are present on the foot, it is important to see a foot and ankle surgeon right away. It is also essential to see a surgeon if there is discoloration of any size underneath a toenail (unless the discoloration was caused by trauma, such as stubbing a toe or having something fall on it).

Diagnosis
To diagnose melanoma, the foot and ankle surgeon will ask the patient a few questions. For example: Is the spot old or new? Have you noticed any changes in size or color? If so, how rapidly has this change occurred?

The surgeon will also examine the spot to determine whether a biopsy is necessary. If a biopsy is performed and it reveals melanoma, the surgeon will discuss a treatment plan.

Prevention and Early Detection

Everyone should practice strategies that can help prevent melanoma—or at least aid in early detection, so that early treatment can be undertaken.

 

Precautions to avoid getting melanoma of the foot and ankle, as well as general precautions, include:

  • Wear water shoes or shoes and socks—flip flops do not provide protection!

  • Use adequate sunscreen in areas that are unprotected by clothing or shoes. Be sure to apply sunscreen on the soles as well as the tops of feet.

  • Inspect all areas of the feet daily—including the soles, underneath toenails, and between the toes.

  • If you wear nail polish, remove it occasionally so that you can inspect the skin underneath the toenails. Avoid UV radiation during the sun’s peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), beginning at birth. While sun exposure is harmful at any age, it is especially damaging to children and adolescents.

  • Wear sunglasses that block 100% of all UV rays—both UVA and UVB.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Remember: Early detection is crucial with malignant melanoma. If you see any of the ABCD signs—or if you have discoloration beneath a toenail that is unrelated to trauma—be sure to visit a foot and ankle surgeon as soon as possible.