Many cancerous tumors do not cause any abnormal feelings before they start to spread, but that certainly doesn’t mean that living with skin cancer is easy. Skin cancer can be deadly, and the sooner you can secure treatment, the better. More or less aggressive skin cancers can have varying effects on a patient’s quality of life, whether directly—by impacting their overall health—or indirectly—by forcing a reconsideration of one’s behavior and habits. Additionally, there are steps that any patient can take to improve outcomes while living with skin cancer.
So, how does skin cancer affect daily life? It depends—so you should explore our guide and talk to your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.
How Does Skin Cancer Affect Your Lifestyle?
Many skin cancer patients report that they do not feel at all abnormal until they receive their skin cancer diagnosis. Both basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are slower-growing than melanoma. Early-stage common skin cancers, and even early-stage melanoma, don’t usually don’t cause significant changes to a person’s lifestyle.
Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent spreading, which can significantly change a person’s lifestyle. Over time, the skin cancer area may begin to itch, which can cause bleeding and/or pain. The growths and lesions themselves may cause some pain, significant pain, or no pain at all, but skin cancer that spreads to other organs will definitely have an impact on how one feels.
However, even if the presence of skin cancer does not affect your lifestyle by causing you to feel ill or in pain, a skin cancer diagnosis should impact your habits and will have an impact on your emotional well-being. Regardless of the stage of the skin cancer, you may feel fear, anxiety, and many other emotions when you receive your diagnosis and throughout your treatment. Making positive lifestyle changes for your health, such as limiting UV light exposure, making dietary changes, seeking support, etc., won’t directly fight skin cancer, but can improve your well-being and prevent recurrence in the future.
Skin cancer treatments can cause side effects, and some can affect one’s lifestyle more so than others. Certain skin cancer treatments, such as Image-Guided SRT, don’t cause any changes to a person’s daily lifestyle. There are some side effects of Image-Guided SRT, such as mild to moderate skin irritation and redness, but you’ll still have the ability to do the things you love to do.
Living with Skin Cancer: Improving Outcomes
Skin cancer patients who make some lifestyle changes can see improved outcomes, as these changes can help to keep your immune system strong or detect other issues before they have a negative impact. Recommended changes include:
- Limiting UV exposure as much as possible
- Adopting a healthier diet
- Adopting behaviors to reduce the risk of infectious disease (like wearing a mask or avoiding crowds)
- Getting more exercise
- Relying on your support systems
Living with Skin Cancer: Coping
How does skin cancer impact your lifestyle? The answer may be less obvious than you’d expect. A skin cancer diagnosis can affect your daily life by making you feel numb, anxious, worried, helpless, overwhelmed, angry, or even guilty. These feelings are normal, and it’s important to process your emotions as they arise. Over time, these feelings will become more manageable.
Additionally, patients who have received a skin cancer diagnosis often face new challenges related to daily life, even after being cured—especially if they are concerned about recurrence or skin cancer in their loved ones. Since some skin cancer treatments carry a risk of scarring, learning how to live with a new scar may be on your agenda. Many find that they wish to make additional lifestyle changes, including:
- Spending less time in the sun
- Wearing more sunscreen, and asking loved ones to do the same
- Spending more time with friends and supporters
In some cases, the anxiety that surrounds sun exposure and potential recurrence can be extreme. Just keep in mind that the most important part of living with skin cancer is to monitor your health, keeping up with regular self-inspections and screenings even if your cancer has been cured.
Ask Your Doctor About Image-Guided SRT
Cases of skin cancer can often be treated with Image-Guided Superficial Radiotherapy, a surgery-free alternative to Mohs surgery. Since this treatment carries no risk of surgical scarring, asking your doctor about Image-Guided SRT may help you limit the impact that skin cancer has on your daily life. Find out how it works and talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.