After Treatment Ends

What Happens After Treatment Ends?

When initial treatment for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is finished, it typically means there is no evidence of BCC remaining. But because cancers can return and you are predisposed to skin cancer, some steps will be necessary for the rest of your life to stay vigilant against recurrences. Within five years of treatment, an estimated 30-50% of patients with BCC will develop another BCC. You are also at risk for developing other types of skin cancers such as melanoma and squamous cell skin cancer.

During the first five years after treatment is completed, a thorough skin exam is necessary at least annually and perhaps more often at your dermatologist’s discretion. These exams can become once a year for life in the sixth year. Depending on the severity of previous BCC, imaging might be a part of the exams.

In addition to the clinical exams, conducting skin self-examinations is important. Nearly half of people diagnosed with other types of skin cancer discovered a suspicious skin blemish themselves before consulting with their doctors about it. You should alert your dermatologist to any sore that does not heal or is otherwise suspicious.

You should practice sun safety to prevent further DNA damage to your skin cells. Protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation by avoiding UV light, seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, covering your head, and using broad-spectrum, 30+ SPF sunscreen. Never use an indoor tanning device.

Whether further skin cancers can be prevented with the help of a drug treatment is under investigation. Stay tuned for information as it becomes available.