PARK RIDGE, IL (PRWEB) August 23, 2003 –- Malignant melanoma is increasing faster than any other cancer, and a new study published in the current issue of the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery shows the overall five-year survival rate for melanoma of the foot and ankle is significantly lower than for melanomas found on other areas of the body.

In the United States, some 40,000 new cases of cutaneous malignant melanoma (melanoma of the skin) are diagnosed every year and the disease accounts for up to 10,000 deaths annually. Melanoma is the most common foot malignancy and is more likely to be misdiagnosed than a melanoma located elsewhere, according to lead author Susan M. Walsh, DPM, AACFAS, a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon in Rhode Island. Her data showed that the overall five-year survival rate was 52 percent for patients with a primary melanoma of the foot or ankle compared to 84 percent for patients with melanoma on the thigh or calf.

“The results of this study should be a strong reminder for physicians and patients to be vigilant in checking the feet carefully for evidence of skin cancer,� said Walsh. “A malignant melanoma on the foot, especially if it isn’t painful and on the bottom of the foot, won’t be as readily noticed as a lesion on the face or arm. Foot melanomas, therefore, are more advanced and more dangerous when they are diagnosed and treated,� she added.

Melanomas can be found anywhere on the foot, including under a toenail. They most often appear as pigmented lesions. Risk factors may be similar to other skin cancers, such as excessive unprotected sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, numerous moles on the body and having fair skin, blue eyes or red hair. Further, populations normally at low risk for skin cancer, such as blacks, Hispanics and Asians, also can develop melanomas on their feet.

Walsh advises physicians to be highly suspicious whenever a patient has a pigmented or unusual lesion on the foot. To be safe, anyone with moles on their feet should watch them carefully and have them removed and biopsied by a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon if they change in color and shape. To locate a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon in your area, contact ACFAS toll-free at 1-888-THE FEET or at

The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery is published by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, the professional organization for podiatric foot and ankle surgeons, doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM) who are graduates of four-year podiatric medical colleges and have completed surgical residencies. The organization is dedicated to developing surgical standards for the care of the foot and ankle, sponsoring research, and providing continuing education for its members.