A woman looking at a person's feet

Podiatry and cancer at Tiptoe Foot Care

Published: 12 October 2021

This initiative aimed to highlight the role of the podiatrist in helping cancer patients cope with side effects of cancer treatment affecting the legs and feet. Afni Shah-Hamilton talks us through how Tiptoe Foot Care in London has been raising awareness of the value of podiatry within cancer care.

Afni Shah-Hamilton Lead Podiatrist and Owner, Tiptoe Foot Care

The initiative

Cancer is still rarely talked about in podiatry, despite the clear benefits of it helping people living with cancer to maintain a quality of life.
Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy are all known to cause dermatological and neurological effects, many of which require podiatric treatment.

This initiative from Tiptoe Foot Care was set up to:
  • Raise awareness in general clinics about the impact of cancer diagnosis on the lower limb and the treatments available. The issues on the legs and feet can have a negative effect on patients’ physical and emotional well-being.
  • Emphasise when to refer to podiatry and what podiatric treatments will help patients. For example, how to help issues affecting lower limb neurology (peripheral neuropathy and gait issues) and dermatological issues.
  • Highlight that podiatrists who are regularly treating patients in their routine appointments are in a position to observe subtle changes and warning signs. This means they have a role in early detection of certain cancers such as sarcomas and melanomas.


What we are doing

  • We work with professional bodies, NHS, and private health organisations to improve awareness about the role of podiatry in supporting cancer patients.
  • I wrote articles in podiatric journals and delivered talks to North London groups, highlighting the treatments available and potential benefits.
  • The team looked at common dermatological and neurological problems that can have a negative impact on the feet and legs of patients being treated for cancer. 
  • The team provide gait analysis and insoles therapy to patients to treat them for the painful neuropathy changes and physical MSK changes caused by surgery (especially those with surgeries affecting arm swing and pelvic movement). 
  • Education and bespoke advice are provided to patients and feedback is (with permission) provided to their GPs and/or oncologists. This helps to raise awareness of the treatments and support available and encourage future podiatric referrals. 

Cancer is very rarely talked about in podiatry, despite the clear benefits of podiatry for people living with cancer.

Podiatry and cancer

Key facts

  • Having a lower limb risk assessment and early referrals to podiatry can help minimise and reduce dermatological side effects and improve patients’ mobility and quality of life.
  • There are multiple podiatric adverse events (PAEs) that commonly affect cancer patients although this remains relatively poorly publicised.
  • Xerosis, HFS, HFSR and nail-related toxicity and infection issues are all known dermatological side-effects of various anti-cancer treatments that can be managed or treated with suitable podiatric advice. 
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy and related gait issues are neurological side-effects.
  • By working more closely with the patient and their cancer unit, podiatrists can improve patients’ quality of life and even reduce the chances of patients not finishing their treatment.

Find out more

You can contact the team by emailing Afni Shah-Hamilton at info@tiptoefootcare.com.


You can read Afni Shah-Hamilton's articles on the Tiptoe Foot Care website.

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