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You can’t change the fact that you have had cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life – making choices to help you stay healthy and feel as well as you can. This can be a time to look at your life in new ways. Maybe you are thinking about how to improve your health over the long term. Some people even start during cancer treatment.

Make healthier choices

For many people, finding out they have cancer helps them focus on their health in ways they may not have thought much about in the past. Are there things you could do that might make you healthier? Maybe you could spend less time in the sun, try to eat better, or get more exercise. Maybe you could cut down on alcohol, or give up tobacco. Even things like keeping your stress level under control might help. Now is a good time to think about making changes that can have positive effects for the rest of your life. You will feel better and you will also be healthier.

You can start by working on the things that worry you most. Get help with those that are harder for you. For instance, if you are thinking about quitting smoking and need help, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Can I lower my risk of cancer coming back or getting new skin cancers?

Most people want to know if there are lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk of cancer coming back.

People who have had skin cancer are at higher risk for getting another one. Because of this, it’s important to avoid too much sun (see “Can basal and squamous cell skin cancers be prevented?”) and to examine your skin every month for signs of possible new skin cancers. Seeing your doctor regularly for skin exams is also important. Skin cancers that are found early are often much easier to treat than those found at a later stage.

Healthy behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, being active, and keeping a healthy weight may also help, but no one knows for sure. But we do know that these types of changes can have good effects on your health.

Last Medical Review: 05/06/2015
Last Revised: 02/01/2016