Say NO To Tanning Beds and MELANOMA !
By Nurse Kimberly
It is almost that time of year when people start thinking about the new spring fashions.
It is also when many people start to visit tanning salons. From what I remember February and March were always very busy months at the tanning salon where I was a member. About four years ago I tanned all of the time year round. It made me feel good to be tan. It was relaxing to lie in a warm bed for fifteen to twenty minutes with no outside stress or distractions. Even though I am embarrassed to admit to it now, sometimes I would go to the pool after I had finished a tanning session. Different friends would preach that tanning beds were not safe and could cause damage but I never took them seriously.
Then it happened. On my back I discovered an odd shaped raised spot. It was different colors and was unlike any of my other freckles and moles. The fact that it was not like any of the other spots on my skin scared me. The more I thought about it the more frightened I became. I called my primary care physician and scheduled an appointment. After careful inspection, she agreed that it looked different and suggested that we remove it and send it to the lab for tests.
She then went on to explain that there are different types of skin cancer. The three most commonly seen are Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and Melanoma.
Melanoma is the deadliest of the three. If Melanoma is not detected early it can spread to other parts of the body. Once Melanoma progresses and worsens to stage three or stage four, the Skin Cancer Foundation says the average time of survival decreases to about eight months.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) did a study that showed those who are first exposed to tanning beds in youth have a 75% increased risk of developing Melanoma. However, uv-emitting tanning beds also increase the risk of developing non-melanoma carcinomas as well. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that tanning bed users are two and a half times at higher risk of developing Squamous cell carcinoma and one and a half times at risk of developing Basal cell carcinoma. In some cases non-melanoma skin cancer can be just as deadly, especially if not detected early.
My physician removed my skin lesion and shipped it off to the lab. She used a local anesthetic so I hardly felt a thing. While I was waiting for the lab results to come back I was nervous and researching like crazy. Before I new the results I had already made up my mind that going to the tanning beds was not such a good idea. My physician contacted me the following week and informed me that the lesion was benign, non-cancerous. What a relief!
The sun and tanning beds are harmful in more ways than just increasing the risk of developing cancer. They can also cause spots, wrinkles, and unwanted lines on our skin. This experience has changed the way I take care of my skin. My makeup I use has a sunscreen in it that helps protect my face when I am outdoors. Before I do any sort of outdoor activity I now apply at least an spf 15 sunscreen to all of my exposed areas of skin. And the best thing I have done, that you have probably already guessed, is that I do not go to tanning salons anymore. There are some really good skin care products out there that can help protect and treat your skin. Once spring hits I’ll share some of my favorites with you. As always, if you have had a scary experience with your skin or someone you know has please share with us!