Life after treatment for melanoma

For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.

Some people say that they feel pressure to return to “normal life”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.

For more on this, see Living well after cancer.

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Listen to podcasts on Cancer Affects the Carer Too and Managing Cancer Fatigue


Follow-up appointments

After treatment ends, you will need regular skin checks to confirm that the melanoma hasn’t come back or spread.

The follow-up plan will vary depending on the stage, and more frequent visits are recommended for people with advanced melanoma. People who had a stage I melanoma need to see their doctor for yearly skin checks, while people with stage II melanoma will need follow-up every 6 months for several years. People with stage III melanoma will be monitored every 3 months for two years. Your doctor can give you more details of your follow-up plan.

When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.

Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any symptoms or health problems.


Dealing with feelings of sadness

If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.

Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.

For information about coping with depression and anxiety, call beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36. For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline 13 11 14.


Looking after yourself

Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment. Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effectsExercise during cancer treatment and Living well after cancer.


This information was last reviewed in January 2019
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