Summary of the issue

Protecting yourself from the sun during cancer treatment

During some cancer treatments, the skin can become more sensitive to the sun. It is easier to get sunburned and the risk of burning is increased, even with moderate exposure. Some spots may also appear. Because everything must be done to avoid these consequences, what are the reflexes to adopt during treatment? We make the point.

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The effect of cancer treatments on the skin

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy... The main types of cancer treatments can have an impact on the skin. Some molecules used in chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy treatments are, for example, photosensitizing, i.e. they increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight. 

It is therefore even more important than usual to protect yourself from the sun. During the treatment period but also afterwards, for several months.

Prevent your skin from possible burns during and after radiotherapy

Protect yourself from the sun as much as possible

Sunburn can happen quickly, especially when undergoing cancer treatment: it can occur within the first few minutes of exposure. 

Very dry areas treated by radiotherapy are particularly at risk of complications that can go as far as severe burns. Skin that has also been dried out by chemotherapy is also likely to react more easily, even if you have dark skin. Rashes and hyperpigmentation of exposed areas (small brown or purple spots) or surgical scars are not uncommon.


From the beginning of your treatment, a strong application of a very high sun protection must therefore become a reflex, outside, even when the sky is overcast, as well as inside. Indeed, the windows of your home or your car do not protect you against UV rays.

Fight against dry skin during cancer treatments.


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To avoid the sun, I have made it a habit to go out early in the morning with a hat and a shawl just in case and I apply sunscreen. Even in the car I am careful. Without my eyelashes, my eyes are even more sensitive, one more reason to wear sunglasses all the time.


Protect yourself from the sun while enjoying its benefits

Should we totally banish the sun during the treatment period? In most cases, no, because it is good for your morale.

Profiter des bienfaits du soleil...

Le soleil fait partie de ces petits bonheurs quotidiens dont il serait dommage de se passer en période de traitement contre le cancer. Il contribue à la régulation du sommeil, de l'appétit, de l'humeur... Et renforce le système immunitaire car les UV permettent la synthèse de la vitamine D, que l'organisme ne peut pas produire par lui-même.

… en toute sécurité

Comment profiter du soleil sans risquer de léser davantage sa peau ? Est-ce sans risque ? Seule l’équipe en charge de votre traitement pourra vous donner des conseils adaptés à votre situation, à court, moyen et long terme. Car une fois les traitements terminés, votre peau reste fragile pendant plusieurs mois.


Prendre soin de votre peau au quotidien pendant un cancer.

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Wear covering clothes...

Go out early in the morning or at the end of the day, when the sun is less strong. Even for a short walk, make sure you have as little skin exposed as possible. Clothing is the safest protection: choose loose-fitting, lightweight pants and T-shirts or shirts made of natural materials to let your skin breathe. A hat and sunglasses with good coverage are also essential.


…and applying sunscreen is the first line of protection.

On the areas that remain exposed (nose, ears, neck, back of the hands, skull...), don't skimp on the sun cream. It must be broad-spectrum, i.e. protect against both UVA and UVB rays, with a very high factor (SPF 50+). For your skin that has been sensitized by the treatments, choose a hypoallergenic, preservative-free and fragrance-free cream. You will find this type of cream in pharmacies or parapharmacy. In stick or small tube form, it can easily be carried in a pocket or bag.

The right gestures to protect yourself from the sun

Choose your sun protection for sensitive skin with care: it will be your ally throughout the duration of the treatments and in the months and years that follow. Cream, fluid, spray... Choose the texture that will make your life easier and with which you will enjoy protecting yourself. Remember to renew the operation regularly (every two hours).

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