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Can Skin Cancer Return after Full Recovery?

by Dr. Natalia Spierings, Dermatology Expert
May 13, 2020

Question: Can skin cancer return after full recovery?

Answer: Yes - but that is not common. For non-melanoma skin cancers like squamous cell carincomas (SCC) and basal cell carcinomas (BCC) the likelihood of recurrence over 10 years is less than 5 percent but that does depend on a number of things like location of lesion, how it was removed, the ‘excision’ or removal margins, the type of skin cancer it was, and the age of the patient. It is more common to develop one of these skin cancers in a different place because if you have one you are theoretically at higher risk of having another one. Melanoma can also recur at the same place but that is, again, not common and dependent on a number of factors, most important being the breslow thickness of the melanoma. The thicker the melanoma, the slightly higher the risk of recurrence. However, that is one of the reasons melanoma patients are followed-up regularly for many years after they have had their skin cancer in order to monitor for this. 

Dr. Natalia Spierings is a consultant dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs micrographic and dermatologic surgeon.

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