Second Cancers After Melanoma Skin Cancer
Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of things, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.
Unfortunately, being treated for melanoma doesn’t mean you can’t get another type of cancer. Survivors of skin melanoma can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of certain cancers, including:
- Another skin cancer, including melanoma (this is different from the first cancer coming back)
- Salivary gland cancer
- Small intestine cancer
- Breast cancer (in women)
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Soft tissue cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
The most common second cancer seen in survivors of skin melanoma is another skin cancer.
Follow-up after melanoma treatment
After completing treatment for melanoma, you should still see your doctor regularly and have regular skin exams. Let them know about any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer coming back or by a new disease or second cancer.
Melanoma survivors should also follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, such as those for colorectal and lung cancer. Most experts don’t recommend any other testing to look for second cancers unless you have symptoms.
Can I lower my risk of getting a second cancer?
There are steps you can take to lower your risk and stay as healthy as possible. For example, it’s important to limit your exposure to UV rays, which can increase your risk for many types of skin cancer. It’s also important to stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many cancers.
To help maintain good health, melanoma survivors should also:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men
These steps may also lower the risk of other health problems.
See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.
Last Medical Review: May 19, 2016 Last Revised: May 20, 2016