Will I need to come back? Usually, one return visit is needed to examine the healed surgical site or to remove stitches. For certain types of reconstruction you may be asked to follow up in six weeks or even three months to make sure this has healed to your satisfaction. Afterwards you may return to your referring physician for routine check ups.
A follow up period of five years for the treated cancer is essential. After having one skin cancer, statistics show that you have a higher chance of developing a second skin cancer. You should have your skin checked by your referring physician at least once each year, not only to examine the treated skin cancer, but also to check for new skin cancers.
How can I protect myself from developing more skin cancers?
The best protection from skin cancer is to avoid the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Even if you tan easily, the sun can contribute to skin cancer in two ways. First, the sunlight damages the genes that control cell growth; and second, sunlight damages the body's immune system so that early cancers grow unchecked by normal immune defenses.
Therefore, it is recommended that you minimize your exposure to the sun by these methods:* Use a sun-screen with a Sun Protectant Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and preferably 30 with UVA/UVB protection when you spend any time in the sun.
* Avoid exposure during mid-day hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).* Do not stay outdoors unprotected on cloudy days since the ultraviolet light penetrates easily through the clouds.
Recently, the benefit of sunscreens has been questioned. Some have even gone so far as to blame sunscreens for causing some forms of skin cancer. There is no scientific proof to these allegations. Although scientific studies are never perfect, recent studies which have formed the basis for the denouncement of sunscreens are terribly flawed. In addition, since sunscreens provide the best protection presently available against the sun's harmful rays, their use is an important part of a sun safety protocol.
Our doctors recommend sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 for daily use and 30 or higher for prolonged outdoor activities. Products which block the UVA wavelengths and are waterproof/sweat-proof are preferable. Specific active ingredients to look for are Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide (Non-opaque - microsize formulations), and Parsol 1789. Good examples are Shade UVA Guard, PreSun Ultra, and SolBar spf 50. For both men and women a good sunscreen containing moisturizer serves two purposes. The sunscreen should be at least an SPF 15. Good examples which are non greasy include Oil of Olay Daily UV Protectant, Neutrogena Moisture, and Purpose.
What about my outdoor life style?
Unfortunately, people who love the outdoors are frequently those most afflicted with skin cancer. Activities such as golf, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, and camping, are not amenable to an indoor setting. For many, these activities provide some of life's greatest enjoyment and are important to one's mental and overall health.
Fortunately, for most skin cancer patients, these pastimes need not be abandoned in the name of prevention. However, for nearly all patients, observation of the sun protective strategies outlined above, is paramount to protect against the development of new skin cancers.