Find out about follow up appointments and tests after treatment for melanoma skin cancer.
Why you have follow up
After your treatment you have regular check ups.
The doctor aims to pick up any signs of:
- melanoma coming back around your scar (local recurrence)
- melanoma spread to your lymph nodes or other part of your body
- new primary melanomas that may develop
You might go for check ups at the surgical outpatients after surgery. You go to the cancer clinic if you have had chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The surgeon and the oncologist might share your follow up. This means you see the surgeon sometimes and the oncologist other times.
At each appointment your doctor or nurse will examine you. And they will ask you about your general health and if anything is worrying you.
Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring back any anxiety you had about your cancer.
It can help to tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Sharing your worries can mean they don’t seem so overwhelming. Many people find it helpful to have counselling after cancer treatment.
How much follow up you have depends on the stage of your melanoma. Your doctor will also consider your risk of developing a new melanoma.
Your doctor will discharge you when you finish treatment. So you will not need to go for any further follow up appointments. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to check your skin for melanoma.
You usually have 2 to 4 appointments in the first year. Then your doctor will discharge you.
Your doctor or nurse will show you how to check your skin for melanoma.
If you have any symptoms that you are worried about, you can contact your hospital doctor or specialist nurse between follow up appointments.
You usually need check ups:
- every 3 months for 3 years
- every 6 months for 2 more years
Your doctor might discharge you 5 years after you complete your treatment.
You might have blood tests to check your general health. If you have any symptoms or are worried about anything in particular, you might have a CT scan or ultrasound scan.
If you have stage 2C melanoma and did not have a sentinel node biopsy, or you have stage 3 melanoma, your doctor might offer you extra CT scans or MRI scans. You have these at regular intervals for a set period of time. It is called surveillance imaging. The doctors are looking to see if the melanoma has come back. Your doctor will talk to you about the advantages and disadvantages of surveillance imaging.
You have regular check ups with your specialist. The appointments may be every three months, or even more often than that. How often you see your doctor will depend on how well you are and whether you are having treatment. Of course, you can contact your specialist at any time if you need an extra appointment because you are worried about something or if you feel ill.