When Americans think of toenail disorders, cancer is typically the last thing that comes to their minds. However, it is not uncommon for cancer to show up on the feet and underneath of a person’s toenails. Unfortunately, many people often mistake the signs of toenail bed cancer as blood blisters from impact injuries or other toenail disorders.
Toenail disorders that tend to mimic the outward signs of subungual melanomas include, but are not confined to the following:
- Longitudinal Linear Lesions
- Splinter Hemorrhages
- Melanonychia Striata
- Fungal Infections
They typically involve a black or brown discoloration that forms underneath of the toenail. Cancer presents itself the same way with a few key, and often subtle, differences. It too will show up underneath the toenail as a discolored spot or line. The spot or line will usually have an irregular border, asymmetrical shape and variations in shading or coloration.
As time goes on, the spot or line may change shape, spread throughout the nail bed and possibly to the surrounding soft tissue. If it spreads too much, surgical amputation will most likely be ordered, as well as chemotherapy and skin grafting. Therefore, Kirkwood podiatrists typically order biopsies to determine whether or not a patient has cancer, or one of the other toenail disorders mentioned earlier.
The biopsy generally involves removing the toenail so a proper tissue sample may be obtained. If the discolored area is rather large, the podiatrist or attending physician may need to repair the hole made by the tissue sampling process with sutures and order post-opt wound care. The length of healing time involved will vary based on how well the patient follows the podiatrist’s wound care recommendations, the wound’s initial size, and the patient’s overall health.
After the biopsy procedure is complete, the tissue sample is usually tested in-house or at a local lab. If cancerous cells are detected, additional treatment, as mentioned above, may be needed. To speak with a podiatrist about this and other serious toenail disorders, please call our office today.