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Complications of melanoma

2-minute read

Your treatment — and how you respond to it — will depend on the location, stage and type of melanoma you have. This means, your needs and possible complications after treatment will vary depending on your treatment journey.

Some issues that you may have after treatment include:

  • 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 or the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 for support and assistance.

It is also very important that you continue to check your own skin regularly to look for any changes and to see your dermatologist for regular skin checks.

If you have had melanoma, there is a chance that the cancer may return; however, most people treated for early melanoma have no further trouble with the disease. The chance of your melanoma returning is higher if your previous cancer was particularly widespread and advanced.

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 have 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.

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Last reviewed: July 2018

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