Living with Skin Cancer

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After finishing the treatment, the patient must attend some routine check-ups in order to detect any potential recurrences, identify new skin tumours (both melanoma and non-melanoma cancers), assess and treat any treatment-related complications and receive psychological support and information.

Recommendations for reducing the risk of recurrence after finishing treatment:

Avoid unprotected sun exposure

Avoid exposure to the sun without sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied along with other straightforward measures, such as staying out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., or covering yourself with clothes, a hat and sunglasses. 

A person with a mole on his face looking at himself in the mirror during a skin examination

Perform regular self-examinations of your skin and lymph nodes throughout your lifetime to monitor for any suspicious moles or the appearance of melanoma. 

Person in a self-tanning booth crossed out

Avoid artificial ultraviolet light. 

Person with sunburn

Avoid sunburns.


How to identify a tumour?

When a lesion on the skin changes colour, shape or size, or if it has irregular colours or bleeds, then it is vitally important that you visit your doctor.

Asymmetrical tumour lesion on the skin

Asymmetrical shape. One hlaf differs from the other. 

Tumour lesion on the skin with irregular border

Border. Irregular, wavy o poorly defined borders. 

Different coloured tumour lesion on the skin

Colour. Variations between areas; coffee or black shades, sometimes white, red or blue. 

Tumour lesion on the skin that has changed in diameter

Diámetro. Mientras que los melanomas son, generalmente, más grandes de 6mm, cuando se diagnostican pueden ser más pequeños. 

Mole that has developed into a tumour lesion of the skin

Evolution. A mole or skin lesion that appears different from any others you may have or which changes colour, shape or size. 

How do I perform a skin self-examination?

Person with a mole on the cheek

Look at your face, especially on the nose, lips, mouth and ears, and also behind them.

Person with a mole on the forehead

Check the scalp and uses a comb to separate layered hair. For men with baldness, we must review the entire scalp.

Man with a mole in the armpit

Lift your arms to examine the inside of the arm and the armpit.

Breast self-revision

Look at the neck, chest and upper body.

Self-examination of the back

Use a mirror to examine the nape and back.

Self-examination of the gluteus

Check the buttocks and the back of the legs. Finish by examining the soles of the feet and the spaces between all the fingers.

Emotional support

Returning to a normal life when suffering from cancer is not easy for some people, and the sense of uncertainty and worry about certain issues, such as personal image, fatigue, sexual desire, work, emotions or lifestyle, are difficult to handle.

To this effect, it is vitally important to try and find support in people with whom you can share these concerns, whether they are family members, friends or your healthcare team. In some countries there are support groups formed by ex-patients, or telephone information lines, which offer advice and organise group workshops where you can discuss your situation with people who have experienced the same thing. 

It is also important to inform your family members of their increased risk of developing a melanoma. Additionally, you should instruct them about regular skin self-exams and recommend they visit their doctor to detect and remove any suspicious moles as early as possible. Nevertheless, a genetic analysis is not required in this case. 

How can I prevent skin cancer?


Sunscreen. Apply a generous layer of a broad spectrum (protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) rays), water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all areas of exposed skin. Reapply the sunscreen approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. 

Woman with sunglasses and hat

Protective clothing. Wear a long sleeve shirt, trousers, a wide brim hat and sunglasses whenever possible.


Seek out the shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If your shadow is smaller than you, then you should find the shade.

Danger of snow, rain or sand

Take extra care when near water, snow and sand. These all reflect and intensify the sun’s harmful rays and increase the chances of being burnt.

Sun and vitamin D

Vitamin D. Incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet or take vitamin supplements. Do not exposure yourself to the sun to produce vitamin D. 

Person in a self-tanning booth crossed out

Avoid the use of tanning booths. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning booths can cause skin cancer and ageing. It is better to use a self-tanning product if you want tanned skin. Even so, you must still wear sunscreen.

What is Cancer?

General information about Cancer

Read more

Substantiated information by:

Eugenia Moliner Papell
Josep Malvehy Guilera

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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