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Supportive care for melanoma skin cancer
Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of melanoma skin cancer. It is an important part of cancer care. There may be programs and services available to help meet the needs and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer and their loved ones, especially after treatment has ended.
Recovering from melanoma skin cancer and adjusting to life after treatment is different for each person, depending on the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects.
You may want to talk to your healthcare team about the following.
Self-esteem and body image
How a person feels about themselves is called self-esteem. Body image is how a person sees their own body. Melanoma skin cancer and its treatments may result in changes to your skin, such as scars and skin colour changes. Some of these changes can be temporary or will lessen with time. Others will last for a long time and some will be permanent. You may feel the changes are very noticeable, especially if they are on an area like your face.
Sometimes makeup can cover up scars and other changes to the skin.
Reconstructive surgery can also be used to repair the skin where the cancer was removed and the skin nearby. Find out more about surgery for melanoma skin cancer, including reconstructive surgery.
You may consider a prosthesis if reconstructive surgery can’t repair the skin, if the area doesn’t move normally, or if reconstructive surgery can’t be done. A prosthesis is an artificial replacement for a body part. A prosthesis for the face or other body parts can be designed exactly for the person who will be using it.
Recurrence or developing another skin cancer
You may be worried that the cancer will come back (recur) after treatment, especially if your doctor said there is a high risk of recurrence. When melanoma skin cancer is found and treated early, it is usually much easier to treat. So it’s important to check your skin and have regular follow-ups with your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any new growths, moles or abnormal areas on your skin.
Most melanoma skin cancers are caused by getting too much ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun or indoor tanning. The best way to lower your risk of cancer coming back or developing another skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun and other UVR.
Find out more about checking your skin, follow-up after treatment for melanoma skin cancer and being safe in the sun.
Questions to ask about supportive care
To make decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about supportive care.
I’m extremely grateful to the Canadian Cancer Society for funding my research with an Innovation Grant.
How can you stop cancer before it starts?
Discover how 16 factors affect your cancer risk and how you can take action with our interactive tool – It’s My Life! Presented in partnership with Desjardins.