Steps to Take After Being Diagnosed with Skin Cancer

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • It can be confusing and scary when you receive a diagnosis of cancer. What does it mean? What will you do? What will happen? How will your life change? In the beginning it may seem impossible to process all the information and know where to turn or what to do. While each person, when diagnosed with cancer, must find their own way to cope with the news, the following may be helpful:


    Learn about your diagnosis. There are several different types of skin cancer, some that are easily treated and have a good chance of not recurring. It is important to know what type of cancer you have and find out as much information as possible. These Questions to Ask Your Doctor After Being Diagnosed with Skin Cancer are a good place to start finding out more about your diagnosis.

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    Find a trusted friend or relative. A diagnosis of skin cancer is confusing and in the next days and weeks you will need to wade through a lot of information. It is often helpful to have one person to help you sort through all the information; this might be your spouse, a family member or a trusted friend. In the beginning especially, you may be overwhelmed and not able to retain what your doctor is telling you about your prognosis and treatment. Having someone accompany you to doctor's visits to write down and remember the different options can help when you later must make decisions.


    Find out about treatments. Depending on the type of skin cancer you have been diagnosed with, there are a number of different treatment options. Some of the treatments include:

    Discussing each type of treatment, including the pros and cons of each can help you and your doctor make the best possible decision for your care.


    Talk with your insurance company. While cancer treatments should be covered by your health insurance, taking a few minutes to contact your insurance company to find out limitations in your policy can save you from surprises later on. For example, if you are discussing some experimental treatments, these may not be covered by insurance.


    Determine what lifestyle changes you need to make. If you haven't already taken steps to protect yourself from the sun's UV rays, now is the time to do so. Beginning a regimen of using sunblock, wearing sunglasses and limiting sun exposure is essential.  While you shouldn't avoid being outdoors, learning how to protect yourself is one way to reduce your chances of skin cancer returning after treatment.


    Learn how to complete self-examinations. Talk with your doctor about how often you should perform self-examinations. For many people, once a month is frequent enough, however, in the beginning your doctor may suggest you complete examinations more often. The posts How to Check Your Skin for Skin Cancer and Tips for Self-Examination for Skin Cancer provide steps to completing a self-examination.


    Talk with your employer. While many treatments for skin cancer are completed in your doctor's office and don't require a hospital stay, you may need to take additional time off work to not only have the treatment completed but to recover from the treatment. Talking with your employer about your diagnosis and what is involved in treatment helps him or her understand and prepare for you to take time off work.


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    Accepting, understanding and working through a cancer diagnosis is difficult and emotionally exhausting. Be sure to take care of yourself during this stressful time, getting the proper rest, eating right and finding time to continue doing the act

Published On: January 21, 2012