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Let's Discuss...sun safety after cancer

Summer has arrived and the weather is warming up. It’s natural to want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Have your sun safety practices changed since being diagnosed with cancer?

What precautions do you take?

38 Replies
Runner Girl
2730 Posts

I have never used sunscreen before. Never had to. Was fortunate that I don't burn, just turn a nice shade of brown. Now that I've had radiation I will take steps to protect the area, using sunscreen.

Does anyone have any experience to share about how you skin reacted to being exposed to the sun after having radiation?

Runner Girl

8442 Posts
I tried to post before but it ended up in cyber space. I always use a daily face cream that has SPF. No matter what season it is, I use it all year. If I spend more time in the sun I use a higher SPF sunscreen. I generally tend to stay out of the sun because I have sensitive skin and burn to a crisp with 5 minutes.
186 Posts

I avoid the sun as much as possible. When I am out in the sun I wear omni shield clothing from Columbia and a big brimmed hat with SPF 60 protection. Everyone thinks I would be hot but I find it cooler than being exposed to the sun.

1543 Posts
I certainly take more precautions than I used to. Like Runner Girl‍, I usually wasn’t one to burn but the PARP inhibitor I am on has made me more sun sensitive and I burn quite easily. I wear sunscreen with spf 30, use a moisturizer with spf 30 on my face and as my lips were getting sunburned I now use a lip balm with spf 30 as well. I also generally wear a hat if I’m going to be direct sun for any period of time.

I've always ignored sunscreen. Nah, I don't need it. But now, I keep a tube of SPF60 at each door, before going out to the back yard, or before going out for a walk. A wide brimmed hat has mostly been customary for me, since my cataract surgery, so that I'm used to. But buttering myself each time I go out? Took some getting used to, but I think I got it figured out!
Roy L.
506 Posts

I always listened to my mom and wore a hat in the sun to keep it off my face as much as possible. I still do. Some might say I am pretty shady because I dont like being in the sun for too long, but if I am I wear sunscreen.


17 Posts

We had always been a bit cautious about the sun before the first time my wife was found to have breast cancer and went through all the treatment programs, and then I had a non-malignant skin blemish the next year. We just decided to be very careful going forward. We tend to not avoid the sun, but we cover up, use sunscreen, and generally manage exposure.

7 Posts

I was diagnosed with melanoma 4 months ago. I have just received my sentinel lymph node biospy results and it's all clear (very good news). I had always kept out of the sun as I burn very easily but since my cancer diagnosis I take even more precautions. I try to stay inside between 11 and 3 so gardening is done first thing in the morning or late afternoon. I always put on sunscreen even if I'm going to be sitting in the shade. And my hat is always on my head (but I always liked wearing hats!)

5 Posts

I've always been very sun smart (was a lifeguard) so my sun safety routines haven't changed, other than applying a spray sunscreen to my head, while my hair is growing back in. SPF 30 or higher if I plan to be out in the sun.

2272 Posts

@Lacey_Moderator Hello…..my original response; also lost in space….???

I am a firm believer in sunscreen….minimum #30, for face….and re apply often…..Sun Hat too is a must…..I also turn red….fast…… I think I have sensitive skin, both before cancer, and even after……So many amazing products out there…..I find the tinted sunscreens the best…..I call it “Free Foundation” !

Slather Up !



2 Posts

Noone has ever said to me that you are more susceptable to sunrays after radiation?? Is this tru?? I had always used a strong spf sunscreen prior to cancer and will continue to….

20 Posts

I must admit I am not a regular sunscreen user except when going to a beach. But now with the long scar down my chest I know I need to cream up to protect it and the rest of me. I use a 45SPF now.

1 Posts

After my melanoma diagnosis in January, and all clear sentinel biopsy results, I am extra cautious in the sun. Staying out of the sun mid-day and regular sunscreen use every time I go out along with a lovely wide brim hat. First check up was good so fingers crossed going forward.

My understanding is that the area that was radiated is more sensitive to the sun. Is that correct? If that is correct, my bathing suit or clothes cover the area that I had radiated. I use sunscreen 30 when I am out in the sun for running, hiking, beach time. A hat too. Being older, my bathing suit covers more than what the teenagers wear so the more sensitive skin is covered.

153 Posts
Everyone will laugh reading this, I dont really care, as I do what I need to, to keep cool.
I have, for many years avoided the sun's exposure not due to cancer but due to migraines. The heat and bright sunshine is one of my migraine triggers. So I personally hate the summer temperatures and even on nice beautiful days, I avoid going outside. So I have not had to change any of my routines after cancer as I have been in the practice of sun exposure since 1985. Even when I have to help mow the back field 2acres of grass to cut down, I bundle up long sleeves and pants and I even wear my winter parka and insert ice packs that I wear next to my body just to keep cool and comfortable in the heat of the summer, along with carrying my iced water bottle and wide brimmed hat and dark sunglasses. Lets me spend 3hours if needed outside in 90°f heat, of course until my ice melts and needs to be replaced.
This works for me.😁🤣😂🤪

I read the brochures from the Cancer Centre and follow the recommendations. I wear a higher SPF and am in Chemotherapy Treatment. Skin is more sensitive to sun, and I still enjoy the warmth and the meditative time spent laying in the sun.

I am fortunate, I live on the 18th floor and maintain a pretty good breeze that flows through my apartment. With the upcoming heat wave, I will be using the air conditioner. Through even +30 degrees, due to the lovely breeze, I never really need it. I have a feeling I will next week. My niece has asked me to look after her cat, and I have invited her as well, as her apartment is not able to cool down easily.🌞

I find im way more sensitive to any sun after my chemo, surgery, immunotherapy and CT scans. I stay right out of the sun in my tilley broad rim hat and ice cold libation. Cant do sun anymore...
7 Posts

our eyesite needs even more protection than our skin because its a direct link to our brain ! jeffrey

27 Posts

I usually go out for 15 minutes without sunscreen to get some Vitamin D….this was at the suggestion of our cancer clinic. After that I put on SPF 30, wear a hat and stay inside during peak hours when I can.

1956 Posts

I’ve always used sunscreen and taken care to cover up, wear a hat etc. I have fair skin with lots of moles, and I have blue eyes so I’m careful to always wear sunglasses when I go outside.

What‘s changed since going through breast cancer treatment is that I’m more conscious of my moles. I developed a swath of new ones during chemo (which no one was interested in looking at), so I’m monitoring them myself.

53 Posts
Since I can remember I have worn sunscreen on my face all year round. Now that I have had Cancer I am going to be so careful. I am a big traveler and move my tropical vacations. Will have to change my routine now.

I went for a swim in outdoor pool last week and I had a tan just from that hour. Will look into water proof for next time.

So many sad stories of melanoma especially in younger people!😞
86 Posts

Yes considerably changed. I am white from my mid thighs to my neck, my arms from mid bicep up, neck and head and feet from ankles down. I live in Mexico now so always wear a ball cap except when fishing or playing golf. Fishing is total face and neck coverage with good sunglasses. Nothing else exposed ! Golf is a wide brim hat, sunglasses, full arm sleeves and 50 SPF on my legs.

Brock C
92 Posts

During and after my treatment (chemo and radiation) I was very sensitive to the sun. Walking outdoors for even just a minute or two would put colour in my cheeks. It was uncomfortable too; I could feel the burning.

Now the quick-burn phenomenon has subsided to some degree but I’m still uncomfortable in direct sunlight. It’s not a matter of applying lotion or wearing a hat. I just don’t enjoy it anymore and it feels unhealthy.

So I’ve had to curtail the outdoor activities I used to like so much: cycling, swimming and walking. No more lounging by the pool or vacations at the beach.

But I can deal with it. We all probably spend too much time on the sun anyway. It’s a sacrifice I can handle.

51 Posts

My radiation finished June 2, 2020 and call it chemo brain if you will but I don’t remember any negative reaction to the sun. I was told at the time to stay out of it as much as possible and to wear sunscreen. Recently in the news it was reported that sunscreens containing benzene were found to be cancer causing. I tried to find a list of sunscreens containing benzene but was unable to do so. If anyone knows about this and could post and tag me that would be awesome.

58 Posts

I wear La Roche Posy 60 SPF as I burn easily (and the dermatologist that I saw for my atopic dermatitis) recommended it. The most important thing to note of sunscreen is applying it and allowing for absorption before you go outside, reapplying as indicated. I wear a hat as well with sunglasses. The radiation technologist told me that I need to protect the areas that have been radiated from the sun as they may burn easily. So far so good.

143 Posts
I have worn sunscreen in the summer since the 80’s, along with a hat and sunglasses, even though I didn’t burn. Since my chemo and breast radiation, I wear a stronger sunscreen (SPF 50-60) if I am going to be in the sun for any length of time and year-round, at least a 30 on my face and neck. They also recommend being cautious in the sun to avoid lymphedema. My skin is much more sensitive now than before treatment and, like others, I tend to avoid the sun more. I just bought a sunblock shirt to wear while swimming.
1018 Posts

I have always burned easy and could not stay in the sun to long. I find since chemo and radiation that the sun feels even stronger and my skin feels like it's burning quicker. I wear sunscreen and mostly sit under my gazebo when outside. I also cannot go without my sunglasses at all! I find my eyes are more sensitive.

sgt. pepper
193 Posts

sun safety is a major issue for me since I've had melanoma three times with the last treatment (immunotherapy) being the only successful one. I am a sun worshipper from way back, lying there for eight hours slathered in baby oil with no sunscreen. I was addicted and spent hours and hours soaking up lethal rays. I now avoid the sun, use heavy duty sunscreen and am pale but healthy.

Sgt. Pepper

32 Posts
Good Afternoon
I wear sun screen and large hats and stay in the shade as much as I can.
911 Posts

As recommended by my dermatologist, I use LeRoche Posay Anthelios L SPF 60. It takes extra minutes to apply every morning, but it is an effective sunscreen that is paraben free. They make a facial one too - with tint and without. I also avoid peak hours - my walks are either early morning or after 7:00 pm. Still working on getting used to hats - I see a shopping trip to the Tilley store in my near future! And when we decided to move last year, a must have was a private, enclosed, and covered deck.

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