Having a proper post skin cancer diagnosis plan is essential in helping to minimise recurrence. Here are five actions you might consider taking once you have been diagnosed with skin cancer to help minimise it returning.
1. Regular self-examinations
Develop a regular habit of checking your skin so you notice any changes early. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt. As soon as you notice any change to your skin, including any new spots, moles or freckles or changes around the site of your previous skin cancer, visit your doctor and get it checked.
The best way to remember what to look for when you are checking your skin is to use the SCAN acronym:
S - Sore: A spot that’s sore (scaly, itchy, bleeding and/or tender) and doesn’t heal within 6 weeks
C - Changing: In appearance (size, shape or colour)
A - Abnormal: Looks different, feels different, or stands out when compared to others
N - New: Most melanomas and all other skin cancers arise this way
2. Know your stuff
Be aware of what you are looking for in each type of skin cancer; a melanoma will usually appear either as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, shape or diameter. BCCs (basal cell carcinomas) will generally be pale, pearl or red in colour and will slowly form into a lump or area of scaly skin. SCCs (squamous cell carcinomas) are thick, scaly, red spots that may ulcerate, bleed or fail to heal. Finally, nodular melanomas are quite dissimilar to other melanomas; they are monochromatic (often pink, red, brown or black), are solid and raised in a dome shape. They will also begin to bleed or crust after a period of time.
3. Be thorough
Remember to check all of your skin, not just areas commonly exposed to the sun. This includes in-between your fingers, under nails and toenails, the soles of your feet and your scalp.
4. Regular doctors checks
Following skin cancer, your doctor will want to check your skin more frequently than before your diagnosis. It is important that if you change doctors, you inform your new doctor of all relevant information about your diagnosis, treatment and health history. This might include providing your doctor with a treatment summary, surgery reports, imaging tests (including MRI or CT scans), a list of any drugs or other therapies you took/underwent, pathology reports, discharge summary from hospital visits and the contact details of the doctor who previously treated you.
5. Be sun smart
Whilst it may seem obvious, the successful treatment of skin cancer once does not mean you have overcome skin cancer and are therefore immune to the sun’s effects; in fact, your chances of getting skin cancer again are much higher. So remember to apply SPF 50+ sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outdoors, reapply every two hours, wear a broad-brimmed hat and protective clothing, and stay out of the sun during the day’s peak UV times (between 11am and 3pm).
If you have had skin cancer and want more follow up care information, head online to https://sundoctors.com.au/. To find the closest SunDoctors Skin Cancer clinic nearby, jump online or call 13SKIN (137546) today.