Supportive care for non-melanoma skin cancer
Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of dealing with non-melanoma skin cancer. It is an important part of cancer care.
Recovering from non-melanoma skin cancer and adjusting to life after treatment is different for each person. It depends on the type of treatment and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects.
You may want to talk to your healthcare team about the following.
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How a person feels about or sees themselves is called self-esteem. Body image is a person’s perception of their own body.
Non-melanoma skin cancer and its treatments may result in changes to your skin, such as scars and skin colour changes. Many of these changes are temporary or will lessen with time. But some can last for a long time or be permanent. You may feel the changes are very noticeable, especially if they’re on an area like your face. You may be afraid to go out and worried that others will stare at you.
Specific types of surgery or other treatments may be considered if the cancer is on a very visible place, such as your face. Sometimes makeup and cosmetic techniques can cover up scars and other changes to the skin.
Reconstructive surgery can also be used to repair the skin and the nearby area after non-melanoma skin cancer is removed. Find out more about surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer, including reconstructive surgery.
If reconstructive surgery can’t repair the area so the skin looks good and the area functions normally, or if reconstructive surgery can’t be done, you may consider a prosthesis. A prosthesis is an artificial replacement for a body part. A prosthesis for the face or other body parts can be designed exactly for the person who will be using it.
You may be worried that the cancer will come back (recur) after treatment, especially if your doctor said the cancer has a high risk of recurrence. When non-melanoma skin cancer is found and treated early, it is usually much easier to treat. So it’s important to check your skin and have regular follow-ups with your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any abnormal areas on your skin.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun. The best way to lower your risk of cancer coming back or developing another skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun.
Find out more about checking your skin, follow-up after treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer and being safe in the sun.
American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell. 2015: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-basalandsquamouscell/.
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma). 2015: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/skin-cancer-non-melanoma.
Sapijaszko M, Zloty D, Bourcier M, Poulin Y, Janiszewski P, Ashkenas J . Non-melanoma skin cancer in Canada chapter 5: management of squamous cell carcinoma. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2015.