After treatment for skin cancer

You may have follow-up appointments after treatment for skin cancer. Your doctor will check that the cancer hasn’t come back and that treatment has worked. Many people with early skin cancers won’t need any follow-up.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, you are more at risk of getting another one. It’s important to check your skin for new symptoms and to protect your skin from the sun. A small amount of sunshine is important as it helps our bodies keep our bones and teeth healthy. But you should protect your skin in the sun. Here are some suggestions:

  • Wear close-weave cotton clothes and a hat.
  • Use high-factor suncream when you’re out in the sun.
  • Don’t let your skin burn.
  • Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest (11am–3pm).
  • Use fake-tanning lotions and spray instead of sitting in the sun or using a sunbed.

If you have any new symptoms or problems, let your doctor know straight away. 

After treatment - follow up

Many people who have surgery for basal cell carcinomas and very early-stage squamous cell carcinomas, will not need any follow-up. However, your doctor may want you to have regular check-ups for a time to make sure the cancer has not returned, and that treatment has been successful. These check-ups are a good opportunity to discuss any problems or worries you may have with your doctor.

Once you’ve had a skin cancer, you’re more at risk of developing another one somewhere else. You’re also more at risk of developing a recurrence of the skin cancer in the area where you had it before. It’s important to regularly check your skin for any new symptoms or changes that could be cancer.

If you have any problems, or notice any new symptoms in between check-ups, let your doctor know as soon as possible.

For people whose treatment is over apart from regular check-ups, we have information on how to keep healthy and adjusting to life after cancer.

Preventing further skin cancers

Protecting yourself from the sun is even more important after you’ve had treatment for skin cancer. Here are some suggestions on how you can protect your skin:

  • Wear clothing made of cotton or natural fibres that 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 suncream with a high sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 whenever you are exposed to the sun. Follow the instructions on the bottle and re-apply as recommended, particularly after swimming. Remember to apply suncream behind your ears.
  • Don’t let your skin burn.
  • Minimise sun exposure during the hottest part of the day (usually between 11am–3pm).
  • Use fake-tanning lotions or sprays to tan your skin rather than sitting in the sun or using a sunbed.
  • Check your skin regularly for any changes.

Although protecting yourself from the sun is important, experts recommend regular exposure to a small amount of sunshine. This is because it helps our bodies to make vitamin D, which keeps our bones and teeth healthy.

Share your experience

When treatment finishes, many people find it helps to talk about and share their thoughts, feelings and advice with other people.

This can be especially helpful for other people with skin cancer who are about to start their treatment. Just hearing about how you’ve coped, what side effects you had and how you managed them is very helpful to someone in a similar situation.

We can help you share your story. Call us on 0808 808 00 00 or read about becoming a Cancer Voice.