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Complications of melanoma

Each individual’s treatment plan, and their response to it, will be different, as this is dependent on the location, stage and type of melanoma that you have been diagnosed with.

Consequently, your post-treatment requirements and possible complications will vary depending on your treatment journey.

Some issues that you may encounter post-treatment include, but are not limited to:

  • scarring
  • pain
  • lymphoedema - where removal of lymph nodes disrupts the lymphatic system, leading to a build-up of fluids in your limbs
  • emotional and psychological issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term side effects of treatment.

Your doctor will discuss any treatment or care required for these or other issues with you. You may also find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor, psychologist or specialist phone helpline. You can contact Melanoma Patients Australia at 1300 88 44 50 for support and assistance.

It is also very important that you continue regular self-skin examinations to monitor any changes on your skin. Additionally it is recommended that you undergo professional skin checks under the care and management of your treating doctor or specialist dermatologist.

If you have had melanoma in the past, there is a chance that the condition may return; however, most people treated for early melanoma do not have further trouble with the disease. The chance of your melanoma returning is higher if your previous cancer was particularly widespread and severe.

You will need regular check-ups to monitor your health. You will be taught a range of self-examination techniques that you can use to check for any changes in your skin, or enlarged lymph glands near to where you had the cancer. If you are concerned, you should see your specialist as soon as possible.

It is also very important to avoid overexposure to the sun.

Many people who have had melanoma become fearful that their own family and friends are at risk of getting melanoma. This is normal. If you feel these concerns, speak to your family about how they can care for their own skin and advise them to visit their doctor for a regular skin check.

Last reviewed: September 2016

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