Skin Cancer and Other Health Conditions

Dealing with skin cancer and its treatment can be significant, and for many people who are diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s not the only health condition they are managing. In our 2018 Skin Cancer In America survey, 84% of survey respondents said they are also dealing with other health conditions, including anxiety, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, obesity or being overweight, arthritis, and migraines. Eleven percent of survey respondents said they have been diagnosed with another type of cancer, such as breast cancer, blood cancer, bladder cancer, or prostate cancer.

Dealing with more than skin cancer

The most common health condition among survey respondents are dealing with is anxiety or panic disorder, experienced by 27% of those surveyed. The next most common health condition was hypertension, or high blood pressure, experienced by 25% of survey participants. High cholesterol and overweight/obesity were each experienced by 23% of survey respondents, with arthritis coming in at 22% and migraines at 20%. Other conditions that were noted by survey participants included gastroesophageal reflux disease (18%), mood disorders like depression (18%), thyroid disease (14%), asthma (12%), sleep disorders (10%), irritable bowel syndrome (9%), neuropathy (9%), chronic pain (8%), endometriosis (7%), and diabetes (7%).

How to balance other health issues during skin cancer treatment

The chances of developing additional health issues increases with age, with 50% of adults over the age of 65 having three or more health problems.1 Managing your health is always important, and it is especially important when you are going through treatment for cancer to help your body heal. Here are some tips for managing your health during treatment:

  • Educate yourself about all your health conditions. While doctors and other healthcare professionals are important parts of your healthcare team, you can be the best advocate for what’s going on in your body, what treatments or approaches are working, and what’s not working. It’s important to understand the basics about each of your health conditions, including what symptoms to watch out for and what treatments or lifestyle modifications can help.
  • Keep track of your medications. It’s important that all your doctors know what medications and supplements you are taking, as some medications can interfere with each other or even cause serious side effects. Keep a list of your current prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. To remember to take medications, some people find it helpful to use weekly pill organizer boxes, which can separate the pills by day and time.
  • Decide on what outcomes are important to you. Each of us has our own priorities and what is important to one may not be to another. Talk to your doctor about what treatment outcomes are most important to you, such as level of independence, pain, or energy level. This can help your doctor to choose the right treatment approach that is best for you.
  • Ask for help. While it can be challenging for those of us who are used to being independent to ask for help, managing multiple health conditions is difficult, and it is not a sign of weakness to ask for and allow others to help you. In addition to speaking to healthcare professionals candidly about your needs, ask family members, friends, or neighbors to assist you and give them specific ideas on how to help.

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