Lifestyle Changes to Manage Melanoma
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Lifestyle changes may not directly affect melanoma. But, they can play an important role in overall physical and mental health. Some benefits are:
Smoking slows healing and may cause problems related to melanoma treatments. Quitting smoking boosts your immune system and helps your body heal faster. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit.
Limit Ultraviolet (UV) Light Exposure
The most common source of UV light is the sun. Treatment makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight and its harms such as getting a sunburn. Limit how much time you spend in the sun. You can do this by:
Reduce Your Risk of Infection
Melanoma and its treatments lower the body's ability to fight off infection. Common infections, like a cold or the flu, can be more severe or take longer to bounce back from. To lower the risk of infection:
Make Dietary Changes
A healthful diet can help your body and mind. Making healthy choices gives fuel to help your body work at its best. It also gives your body nutrition to help heal it faster. Eating the right foods will also make you feel better and keep your weight in a normal range.
Melanoma and its treatments can make you feel less hungry. Make the most of the calories you eat. A dietitian can help you with common eating problems. They can also help you plan meals.
Exercise helps you keep your weight and supports the immune system. If you have not been exercising on a steady basis, check with your doctor to choose a safe program. Exercise has many benefits. It helps with:
Talk with a trainer to help you set goals. They will also help you do it safely, especially when starting out. While adding exercise, be sure to balance it with rest.
Fatigue is the most common problem with melanoma and its treatments. To keep from getting overtired, work on tasks that need the most attention first. Allow others to help you with daily chores, shopping, and making meals. If needed, plan time to rest during the day.
Talk to your doctor if fatigue makes it hard for you to get through the day.
The diagnosis of melanoma is a life-defining event that can be hard to handle. It can be overwhelming to think and worry about treatment, changes, and uncertainty. Be sure to rely on family, friends, and other people in your life. People who allow themselves to seek help while they are recovering from melanoma can often have a better emotional balance. Other sources:
Family and caregivers may also need support. Encourage them to seek support groups or counseling geared toward them.
Melanoma found in later stages makes it harder to treat. Some people choose treatments to help ease symptoms. Others choose to fully stop it. For some people, it may be realistic to start end-of-life planning. Aspects may include:
Talk your care team for guidance. You can be referred to a trained professional to guide you through the process.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma. Updated March 26, 2019. Accessed May 8, 2019.
Stay healthy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html. Accessed May 8, 2019.
Sun protection. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection. Accessed May 8, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/8/2019
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