Importance of checking your skin 58

It’s important to regularly check yourself for any signs of melanoma. As you have already been diagnosed with melanoma, you are at a higher than average risk of having another melanoma in the future.

Performed regularly, self-examination can alert you to changes in your skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer. For most people, once a month is ideal, but ask your doctor if you should do more frequent checks.

Signs to look out for

It’s important to check yourself for any signs of melanoma at least once a month for the rest of your life. If another melanoma develops, the sooner it is found, the more chance there is of curing it. You should check (by looking and feeling):55,58

  • your scar and the surrounding area
  • the lymph nodes located nearby
  • your skin, from head to toe, for any new or changing moles - using the ABCDE list

Skin care in the sun 55

After treatment for melanoma, it is important to protect your skin from the sun. This doesn’t mean that you can no longer enjoy sunshine or have holidays in sunny countries. But you’ll need to be careful, and you must make sure your skin does not burn.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your skin:

  • Stay out of the sun or strong sunlight during the hottest part of the day - usually between 11am and 3pm
  • Wear clothing made of cotton or natural fibres, which have a close weave
  • Keep your arms and legs covered by wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck and ears
  • Wear sunglasses in strong sunlight
  • Use a high-factor sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation whenever you’re exposed to the sun
  • Don’t use sunscreen instead of other methods of protecting your skin. Some people think that if they use sunscreen, they can stay out in the sun for longer. But the best protection is to cover up and to stay out of strong sunlight
  • Don’t use a sunbed or sunlamp - use fake tan lotions or sprays instead

If you always keep your skin covered, talk to your doctor about whether you should take vitamin D supplements.

Lifestyle changes 55

You may want to think about making changes to your lifestyle and understanding more about living healthily. Changes like these can also help improve your sense of well-being and lower your risk of getting other illnesses and some cancers.

Balanced eating and maintaining a healthy weight

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and eat more foods that are high in fibre, such as wholemeal, cereal, beans and grains. Eat less red meat, animal fats and salted, pickled and smoked foods. Follow sensible drinking guidelines.

Regular exercise

Exercise can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can improve your well-being and energy levels. It also reduces the risk of other diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and bone thinning (osteoporosis). Ask your cancer specialist or GP for advice.

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