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.
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.
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.