What happens after treatment?

After your treatment, you will have regular follow-up appointments with your specialist. They will examine your skin and lymph nodes to check that no new melanomas have appeared and that the cancer hasn’t spread.

You will also have to check your skin at least once a month. The ABCDE checklist can help you to know what to look and feel for. Let your hospital team know if you are unsure of anything or if you notice anything different.

After melanoma, it’s very important to protect your skin from the sun. You can still enjoy the sun and go on sunny holidays, but you need to make sure that your skin doesn’t burn. Staying out of strong sunlight, covering up with clothing, hats and sunglasses, and using high-factor sunscreen can all help. You should not use sunbeds and sunlamps.

Many people find it quite easy to get back to normal after melanoma. For others it can be more complicated. With time, people can adjust to the changes they need to make to their lives.

Follow-up care

After your treatment, you’ll have regular follow-up appointments. During these appointments, your specialists will examine any areas that have been treated for melanoma. They will also examine any existing or new moles, and your lymph nodes.

Sometimes, a melanoma that has previously come back in the same area can spread to other parts of the body. This is known as a secondary cancer (metastasis). If a melanoma does spread to other parts of the body, further treatment can be given. You can read about these in the advanced melanoma section.

What to look out for

You’ll need to continue checking your skin and lymph nodes after treatment. Follow your specialist’s advice about what to look and feel for. Make sure you examine yourself at least once a month.

The ABCDE checklist can help you remember what to look for: an asymmetrical shape; a border that’s blurred or irregular; a mole with more than one colour; a diameter usually larger than 7mm; and any moles that evolve (change) over time.

If you notice anything that concerns you, let your specialist team at the hospital know.

We also have a video which helps to show what to check for when examining your own skin.

After melanoma

Many people with melanoma find they can get back to normal quite easily. For others, it may be more complicated. In time and with the right support, people often find they can adjust to any changes they need to make to their lives.

Skin care in the sun

After treatment for melanoma, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. This doesn’t mean that you can no longer enjoy sunshine or have holidays in sunny countries. But you’ll need to be careful, and you must make sure your skin does not burn. Over time, this will become part of your normal routine.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your skin:

  • Stay out of the sun or strong sunlight during the hottest part of the day – usually between 11am and 3pm.
  • Wear clothing made of cotton or natural fibres. These have a close weave and give more protection against the sun.
  • Keep your legs and arms covered by wearing long sleeves and trousers. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck and ears.
  • Always wear sunglasses in strong sunlight.
  • Use a high-factor sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) whenever you’re exposed to the sun. Follow the instructions on the bottle and re-apply it as recommended, especially after swimming. Choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation (known as broad spectrum).
  • Don’t use sunscreen instead of other methods of protecting your skin. Some people think that if they use sunscreen, they can stay out in the sun for longer. But the best protection is to cover up and to stay out of strong sunlight.
  • Don’t use a sunbed or sunlamp. If you like to look tanned, use fake tan lotions or sprays.
  • If you have a skin condition and use a sunbed as part of your treatment, your dermatologist will advise you to stop using the sunbed.

If you always keep your skin covered, talk to your doctor about whether you should take vitamin D supplements.