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Follow up

Find out about the follow up you'll need after treatment for skin cancer.

It’s important to check your skin and know how to protect it in the sun. If you spot any signs of another skin cancer between check ups, you should contact your GP or specialist.

Check ups

After surgery, you might have follow up appointments for skin cancer. The doctor will:

  • look for signs of the cancer returning (this is rare for many early stage skin cancers)
  • see if there are any problems following treatment
  • examine for signs of new skin cancer
  • make sure you know what to look out for
  • check that you know how to protect your skin in the sun

Once you’ve had one skin cancer, you’re more at risk of getting another.

How often

There is a low risk of a basal cell skin cancer (BCC) coming back if it was an early stage cancer. So you may not need follow up appointments.

You may have regular follow up if you had a squamous cell skin cancer (SCC) that had a high risk of coming back. 

Some people will only need follow up appointments for 6 months. While others might have appointments every 3 to 6 months for 5 years. These will be with your GP or specialist.

How often you'll need check ups depends on how likely your cancer could come back. Your doctor will make this assessment based on:

  • the size and depth of the original cancer
  • the type of cancer
  • the grade of the cancer (what the cells looked like under the microscope)
  • whether your immune system is weakened
  • how many skin cancers you've had

What to expect

At each appointment, your doctor will:

  • examine you
  • ask about your health and if anything's worrying you

You might have tests to check for signs of recurrence. These can include:

  • a skin biopsy
  • an ultrasound scan
  • CT scan

Worried about your check up

Many people find their check ups quite worrying. A hospital appointment can bring all the worry about your cancer back, if you’re feeling well and getting on with life

Remember that the risk of BCC spreading to other parts of the body is extremely low. BCC can come back in the skin close to where they started, but they hardly ever spread elsewhere.

A squamous cell skin cancer has a higher risk of spreading than a BCC. But this is still unusual.

You might find it helpful to talk to someone close about how you’re feeling. It‘s quite common for people to have counselling after their cancer treatment.

You can also call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

Information and help