The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Foot and Ankle Tumors

Posted by on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


Feet are so complex that they have their own unique array of injuries that are unlike anything found anywhere else on your body. However, they do also share some problems that can be found in other parts of the anatomy. This includes tumors, even, sadly, cancerous ones.

Tumors can affect your foot in several areas.

Soft tissue tumors – There are a variety of tumors that can be found in the soft tissues of your foot, primarily on the sole of your foot and especially in the fatty cushion areas on your heel and forefoot. There are also tumors that affect the plantar fascia, the long band of tissue that runs from your heel to your forefoot. These are typically benign, or non-cancerous types of tumors. The most symptoms are a bump on your foot and pain in an area on your foot when you walk or put weight on it. Sometimes they can be scraped off but cutting them out is the best way to deal with them. This is done under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office.

Soft tissue tumors can also develop in your nail bed, under your nail. You would most likely notice these if you felt pain on your toeneail when you wear shoes that press or rub on your nail. Again, the best way to deal with these is to have them cut out.

Skin Tumors – It’s been at least a decade since the warnings about skin cancer began to be taken seriously, with people now used to taking precautions to keep their skin safe from excessive exposure to the sun. However, one place that people still neglect is their feet. Symptoms include the usual skin cancer warning–look out for dark patches that appear on your foot or moles or blemishes that seem be growing. The most common places for skin cancer on your foot are the sole, between the toes, and even under the toenails! Pain in an isolated area may also be an indicator. Treatment is typically surgery to remove the malignant cells, possibly with chemotherapy or radiation.

As usual with skin cancer, you’re better off if you catch it early so keep an eye on your foot and if your doctor or dermatologist does a skin cancer check on the rest of your body, make sure your feet get a look as well. Of course, nothing beats prevention so if you’re headed off to the beach, theme park,  or anyplace else where your feet can be exposed to the sun, make sure you keep putting sunscreen on your feet as well as the rest of you.

Bone tumors – They’re rare, but bone tumors can be found in your feet and ankle bones. Symptoms may include pain that you feel in your bone, particularly at night. There may be a mass in the area. The most telling symptom is fractures that occur more easily than normal, as tumors weaken bones. The only way to find out for certain if you have a bone tumor is with an x-ray or MRI, and the only way to find out if it’s benign or malignant is to have it removed by a foot and ankle surgeon and analyzed. If it is a cancerous tumor, then radiation or chemotherapy may be required. In very rare cases, the foot may need to be amputated.

I hate to end on that kind of grim note, so let me just emphasize again that that is pretty rare. Just like with skin cancer, the best way to avoid the worst outcome is to pay attention to your feet!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.