Living with Melanoma

After the treatment has been completed, doctors propose a follow‐up program consisting of consultations on a regular basis and aiming to: 

  • detect possible recurrence at an early stage 
  • recognize new skin tumors, melanoma as well as non‐melanoma tumors since they share the same main risk factors 
  • evaluate treatment‐related complications and treat them 
  • provide psychological support and information to enhance returning to normal life 

Follow-up visits with the oncologist should include history‐taking and clinical examination. According to the stage of the cancer or to the results of the clinical examination, additional radiological exams may be performed. 

Return to normal life 

It can be hard to live with the idea that the cancer can come back. Based on what is known today, there are a few simple rules that are recommended: 

  • To reduce the risk of recurrence after completion of the treatment: 
    • Avoid sunburn 
    • Avoid unprotected solar exposure 
    • Avoid artificial ultraviolet light 
  • To detect early any suspicious moles or recurrence of the melanoma 
    • Regular self‐examinations of the skin for the rest of one’s life 
    • Regular self‐examinations of the lymph nodes for the rest of one’s life 

As a consequence of the cancer itself and of the treatment, the return to normal life may not be easy for some people. Questions related to body image, sexuality, fatigue, work, emotions or lifestyle may be a concern. Discussing these questions with relatives, friends or doctors may be helpful. Support from ex‐patients’ groups or telephone information and helplines is available in many countries. 

It is also important to inform members of the family (parents, siblings and children) that are at an increased risk of developing melanoma. A regular examination of their skin by themselves and by a doctor should be organized to detect and remove any suspicious moles as early as possible. 

 


Source: Melanoma: a guide for patients ‐ Information based on ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines ‐ v.2011.2