Staying out of the sun after treatment????

I finished chemo in September and radiotherapy at end of November and am just on Letrozole now and was wondering about what the real situation was about staying out of the sun, post treatment. I was advised to stay out of serious sun last year whilst undergoing treatment and that was fine because I wasn’t in sunbathing mood anyway with a Picc line and so on! And I think I remeber my onc saying stay out of it for a year?..

But I am going on a week’s hols to Turkey in May where it will be about 25-30 degrees and I wondered whether I still had to cover up, particularly on my op site? And if it is advisable to do this, why? What is the rationale behind the advice…Is it because of radiation overload after rads treatment??..or something else?

I am a sun bunny and will want to sunbathe a little, although am prepared to do less than normal if required. I am not fair skinned and have always taken sun well and tanned easily but would just like some advice and felt sure that someone here would know!



Like you I am a sun bunny and tan well and don’t burn. I was told not to sunbathe for 12 months, but last summer when I have having rads I went straight from the hospital to the garden without any ill effect.

I have just finished my 12 months of Herceptin and am off to California in 3 weeks and will definitely be sun worshiping, morning to night for 2 weeks.

I think that radiotherapy makes your skin sensitive, but if yours doesn’t feel anymore sensitive than it used to I would go with what you would normally do. At the end of the day if you start to burn you can always cover up and slap a bit more cream on.


Hi Wandy. This is partly individual, because at least some of us find we are more photosensitive than we used to be following chemo, as well as the radiation concerns. The rads treatment area may also be more sensitive, but there seems to be a general concern about a possible increased risk of skin cancer. I was told to stay out of strong sun for at least 6 months and to be careful for at least a year. I certainly found I was a little more photosensitive after chemo last summer, but normally I try to get some spring sunshine on my skin while it is less intense rather than going straight into intense sunlight.

It might be sensible to stay in light or dappled shade during midday (10 or 11 to 2 or 3) and do any actual sunbathing later in the afternoon when the heat is there, but the light and radiation are less intense. I think you may normally get more sun than some of the rest of us, so you may also have more existing protection than most of us. But do use a good sunscreen generously.

Thanks Mezzomamma and SamLee. Helpful.

I think I will play it by ear and like you say MM, avoid searing heat but not avoid it altogether and slather on the protection!

Have a great time in California Samlee!


Thanks Wandy.

And don’t forget ladies, there is a suggestion in some reports that a lack of Vitamin D can contribute to breast cancer and that most people in the UK are lacking in vitamin D. I know my onc tested me for it at the end of last year and I am technically deficiant which surprised me bearing in mind I live in the south of England and sun worship.

So a certain amount is good for you.

Hi Wandy,
My onc said to keep the area which had been treated with rads out of the sun as the skin here would be more sun sensitive. I think the real message should be exercise more caution than you would do normally. I generally tan easily but have stopped exposing my cleavage to much sun a few years ago when I saw that my skin here was beginning to look old and a bit leathery.

Re: Vit D. I get 800iu of Vit D3 with my Adcal D3 prescribed for family history of osteoporosis and the AI’s I am taking. But I top up the D3 with an extra 1000iu every other day, which I buy at the health food shop. I have been doing that since i watched the recording of a lecture by the deputy director of the breast cancer unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY. He recommended 1000iu per day. It has to be D3. Ordinary Vit D in a multivitamin is not strong enough.
Speaking of sun… my garden thermometer says 16C and the sun is out. Off to the garden.

That’s what my onc put me on when I tested deficient. 1000iu per day of D3.

Have been taking it to 3 months now and it is slowly going back up, so hoping that California adds a bit more to it.


Going back to the bit about the op site and the sun…
I seem to remember reading that it takes at least two years for scar tissue to regain it’s strength… not sure where that leads us with sunlight except I’m sure we all have seen old scars that are still white when the rest of the skin goes brown… so logic suggests that white skin = no natural protection from UV.

Thanks for all comments. Actually I am going to start taking VitD as well. After my dexa scan, bloods taken showed a Vit D and calcium deficiency so will get some asap.

But in the meantime will sit out and get as much sun as poss, while being careful too!