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Living with Skin Cancer

Follow-up after treatment for skin cancer

For many people who have surgery for basal cell cancers and very early stage squamous cell cancers, no further follow-up will be required.

However, your doctor may want you to have regular check-ups for a time to make sure that the cancer has not returned, and the treatment has been fully successful. These check-ups are a good opportunity to discuss with your doctor any problems or worries you may have.

Once you have had one skin cancer you are at more risk of developing another skin cancer. You are also more at risk of developing a recurrence of your skin cancer at the site where you had it before. So it's important that you check the rest of your skin for any new symptoms or changes that could be cancer.

If you notice any new symptoms, or you have any worries, you should discuss them with your GP or specialist. For people whose treatment is over apart from regular check-ups, our booklet on adjusting to life after cancer gives useful advice on how to keep healthy and re-adjust to life after cancer.

How you might feel

Although your skin cancer is likely to be cured you may feel anxious or upset for a while. Talking to family and friends about how you are feeling often helps. You can also talk to your doctor or specialist nurse for advice and support.

Occasionally some people may need more advice and support from their healthcare professionals and family and friends. Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone who's not directly involved. Your specialist or GP can usually refer you to a trained counsellor who can help.

Preventing further skin cancers

Protecting yourself from the sun is even more important after you have had treatment for skin cancer.

There are precautions that you can take to protect your skin:

  • Wear clothing made of cotton or natural fibres which are closely woven and offer good protection against the sun.
  • Protect your face and neck with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Always wear sunglasses in strong sunlight.
  • Use a high-factor sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) whenever you are exposed to the sun. Follow the instructions on the bottle and re-apply as recommended, particularly after swimming.
  • Never allow your skin to burn.
  • Minimise sun exposure during the hottest part of the day – usually between 11am–3pm.
  • Use fake-tanning lotions or sprays rather than sitting in the sun or using a sunbed.

Living with and after cancer

Emotional effects

Information on the emotions you might experience as a result of your cancer diagnosis, ways that you might manage them and other sources of support.

Relationships and communication

Advice on how to talk to other people, talking to children, relationships and sexuality.

Note: JASCAP has booklets on the above subjects.

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