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Nursing Care Plan for Skin cancer – Melanoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Skin cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. There are three main types of skin cancers:  Basal cell carcinoma is the most common, squamous cell carcinoma (also common), and melanoma (less common, more dangerous). Other conditions that are considered to be precancerous as they can develop into cancer include actinic keratosis and atypical moles. About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are related to UV exposure, either from the sun or from tanning beds. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five severe sunburns.


UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the main cause of mutations in the DNA of skin cells which leads to skin cancers. Cumulative UV exposure over time may result in nonmelanoma cancers, while episodes of severe sunburns before the age of 18 can result in melanoma later in life.  A family history of skin cancer and immunosuppressant drugs increase the risk of developing skin cancers. Other, less likely causes, maybe repeated x-ray exposure, scars from burns, or occupational exposure to chemicals (arsenic).

Desired Outcome

The patient will be free from skin cancers, the patient is educated on prevention of skin cancers, the patient will be free from complications or metastasis

Skin cancer – Melanoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma Nursing Care Plan

Subjective Data:

  • Itching
  • Painful bumps on the skin

Objective Data:

  • Shiny pink, red or pearly bumps on the skin
  • Skin growths with raised borders that are crusty in the center
  • The white, yellow or waxy area with irregular borders (may resemble a scar)
  • Open sore that does not go away (weeks)
  • Raised growth with a rough surface
  • Wart-like growth
  • Suspicious Mole (ABCDE)
    • Asymmetry
    • Borders
    • Color
    • Diameter
    • Elevation / Evolution

Nursing Interventions and Rationales

  • Assess skin from head to toe; note areas of suspected skin cancers and their size and characteristics
  Get baseline data to determine if growth continues to spread or if treatment is effective  
  • Prepare patient and assist with biopsies of skin lesions
  Most biopsies will be performed by punch or scalpel;  
  • Assess and manage pain as necessary
  Patients may experience pain following a procedure or chemotherapy  
  • Monitor for signs of infection following biopsy or excision

  • Biopsies may be followed with electric current cauterization but may result in an open wound that can become infected.
  • Following excision and curettage, monitor for draining of pus, odor or areas that do not show signs of healing


  • Apply or administer medications as appropriate
    • Topical medications
    • Medications for advanced cancer
  Superficial basal cell carcinoma often only requires topical medications for treatment, however more advanced cancers, melanomas, or with metastases, medication may be required, especially if other treatments have not been effective.  
  • Monitor vital signs; changes in skin
  Watch for signs of adverse reactions to medications given  
  • Prevention education for patients and their families
    • Avoidance of extended UV exposure
    • Use daily sunscreen
  Prevention of further cancers or the development of new cancer is important for patients and their families.  
  • Educate patient on how to evaluate suspicious moles using ABCDE mnemonic
  Patients can easily self monitor any suspicious moles and report any changes or developments to their primary care provider or dermatologist.  


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