A portion of the population will develop a mass or nodule on the foot that may worry them. However, many masses are benign and should not be treated with surgery unless symptomatic. Examples include fibromas, which are hard rubbery mobile masses often on the bottom of the foot; cysts which are fluid filled sacks, often near joints; lipomas which are fat accumulations; and exostoses which are bony outgrowths. If you notice a mass on your foot, look for change in size, especially rapid change, pain, itching, redness, swelling and any color changes to the skin. Changes, especially rapid growth and system symptoms like night sweats and rapid weight loss mean that you should see your doctor right away.
Actions that may be considered by your doctor or podiatrist:
- Imaging including x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- If a cyst is identified, they may try draining it or use steroids to reduce it
- If symptomatic but not growing, they may try to offload the mass and prevent pain from bearing weight on the mass
- If bone, joints, or tendons are affected, they may remove the mass even if it is not growing because of mass effects on these structures or location of the mass
- Any mass that is rapidly growing may warrant a referral to oncology
- Oncology may also recommend radiation and/or chemotherapy
- If melanoma is discovered, your doctor may have to perform a more extensive surgery because of the nature of this cancer
Most masses are benign and it is rare for a large number of them to become cancerous. However, early detection and monitoring can prevent invasive growth and metastasis that could threaten life or limb. See your doctor or podiatrist early and often if you notice these important changes.