Follow-Up Care for Melanoma

The patient’s care does not terminate after the completion of active treatment for melanoma. Your health care team will continue to examine your overall health and check to see if cancer has returned. In other words, recurrence. Surveillance and monitoring is the process of follow-up care.

Physical and dermatologic examinations

Regular physical and dermatologic examinations, as well as medical testing, maybe a part of the follow-up treatment plan to evaluate your recovery over the coming months and years. The main goal of monitoring is to search for recurrence or spread of the disease and develop a new primary melanoma. The follow-up and monitoring approach for a person with a history of melanoma is highly customised and can vary from person to person. The medical history and physical exams are the most significant aspects of surveillance. 

Cancer Rehabilitation

Cancer rehabilitation may be advised, including physical or occupational therapy, career counselling, pain management, nutritional plan and recommendations, and emotional counselling. The purpose of rehabilitation is to assist people in regaining control of many parts of their lives while remaining as autonomous and productive as possible. 

The primary purpose of follow-up care is to look for recurrence, suggesting that cancer has returned. Cancer recurs because little pockets of cancer cells in the body can go undiagnosed. These cells may multiply over time until they appear on test results or generate signs or any of the symptoms. A medical practitioner who is very knowledgeable about your medical history can provide you with personalised information regarding your risk of recurrence during the follow-up. Your medical practitioner will ask you detailed health-related questions. Some people may get blood tests or imaging tests as a part of routine follow up care. However, testing recommendations are based on various factors, including the kind of stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis and the type of treatment received. 

Every 3 to 6 months, doctors perform physical and skin examinations. However, doctors do this for the first two to three years. After that once a year. On the other hand, the medical practitioner may advise you on a different follow-up regimen. If the doctor detects the melanoma to have a high risk of recurrence, he/she may perform a chest x-ray, CT Scan, MRI, PET-CT scan. However, doctors do not usually recommend scans during follow up care for people treated with the early stage of melanoma.

The stress of anticipating a follow-up test or waiting for the test results might be stressful for you or a family member. In other words, “Scan-xiety.”

Preventing and detecting second skin cancers

Regular screening with a skin inspection for new melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, as well as sun protection and also sun avoidance, is an essential aspect of follow up care. A medical practitioner or any other health care practitioner may prescribe screening for melanoma and other skin malignancies. It is necessary to photograph your skin regularly to keep a careful eye on it. If feasible, request copies of your image from your doctor and learn how to perform a skin self-examination. According to mounting evidence, earlier those photographed were diagnosed with melanoma.

Protecting your skin from UV radiation is critical for preventing skin, whether melanoma or non-melanoma.Many melanoma people live in an active, outdoor festival and lifestyle. It is vital to take precautions to avoid future skin risks or injections. You may also protect yourself from further skin injuries. It is possible by doing the following.

  • Outdoor activities before 10:00 a.m or after 4:00 p.m
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Reapply sunscreen after every two hours. 
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Usage of a cap or a hat.
  • Avoid the usage of indoor tanning systems at all costs. 

There are various ways to follow the melanoma diagnosis and treatment. Firstly, a person should adjust his or her lifestyle to include sun protective or sun avoidance measures at all times and the avoidance of indoor tanning systems. Furthermore, if he or she works in an area with a high level of UV exposure, he or she should consider job-related difficulties. 

Managing long-term and late side effects

The majority of people anticipate experiencing adverse effects when undergoing treatment. However, it is common for survivors to be surprised that some adverse effects may last beyond the treatment term. In other words, long term negative effects. Other side effects, known as late side effects, can appear months or even years later. Both physical and emotional changes might occur in the long term and late impacts. 

Talk and discuss your likelihood of having such side effects with your medical practitioner depending on the kind of cancer, your unique treatment plan, and your overall health. Specific treatment have specific side effects. In that case, you might be subjected to physical examinations, scans, or any blood tests to identify and manage them. 

The surgery for an early stage, thin melanoma is usually performed as an outpatient procedure with no requirement for rehabilitation. Depending on the site’s location, a more extensive melanoma and probable skin grafts may necessitate rehabilitation after treatment. Some individuals develop lymphedema or persistent discomfort, as mentioned in coping with treatment. Please consult your medical practitioner and the team on handling these and their side effects. 

Personal health records

You and your medical practitioner should set up a plan together and develop an individual personalised follow-up plan. It is vital to discuss any issues or concerns about your future physical or mental health. American Society of Clinical Oncology provides forms to assist keep note of the cancer treatment you received and creating a survivorship care plan after treatment is fully complete. This is also a perfect time to talk with your medical practitioner about who will lead your follow-up care. Some survivors continue to consult their oncologist, while others transition back to the supervision of their family doctor or another health care professional. This decision ultimately depends on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and personal preferences.

If a medical practitioner who was not directly engaged in your cancer care will lead your follow-up care, be sure to share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and with all future health care providers. Details about your cancer treatment are precious to the health care professionals who will care for you throughout your lifetime.

Health care appointments

Many people find and go through their after treatment checkups in an anxious manner. A health care centre appointment can bring back any anxiety you have about your cancer. But some people find these appointments reassuring. It can be really helpful when you open up to your carer or your near and dear ones about feelings. Talking about your feelings can mean they don’t seem so immense. Many people find it very helpful to have counselling sessions after their cancer treatment. Talk to your medical practitioner or nurse to help set this up. How much follow up do you have on the stage of your melanoma? Your medical practitioner and your health care team will also consider your risk of developing a new melanoma.