Skin cancer selfie spreads awareness in metro

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A frequent tanner recently posted a selfie of her face after receiving skin-cancer treatments, and she’s become a cautionary tale about the dangers of tanning beds.

“It doesn’t really change how I feel about tanning beds,” said 29-year-old Cara Irvin, who has been tanning since she was 18.

Irvin says the viral picture of Tawny Willoughby doesn’t really change her mind about tanning beds.

“If you do everything in moderation, when you start abusing anything it`s going to become a problem,” Irvin added.

She says she tans a few times a month, but says since it isn`t excessive so she doesn`t think it`s a big deal.

“The issue is getting that message across to teenagers and young people who still think they`re invincible,” says Dr. Daniel Aires, a dermatologist at the University of Kansas Hospital, who says if you don`t need a tanning bed for a medical reason – he doesn`t recommend it.

“Tanning bed use has been associated with increased risk of skin cancer,” says Dr. Aires, “Sun burns have been associated with increased risk of skin cancer.”

Irvin says she prefers spray tans because she likes the instant gratification, but she says skin cancer from tanning beds isn’t really a worry of hers.

“We all have different skin types family history – for me it doesn’t run in my family history, more like heart disease and heart attacks so I’m more food conscious than I am skin conscious,” Irvin says.

Dr. Aires says Willouhby’s selfie of her face covered in blisters and bloody scabs that’s gone viral will hopefully be a wake up call to those who don’t protect their skin.

“A dramatic picture like the picture of this young woman, the way she looks during treatment, that speaks so much more directly than any words,” adds Dr. Aires.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

“A recent study showed that the skin cancer rate in america has jumped 300% in the last 20 years; up to two million Americans every year getting diagnosed with skin cancer,” Dr. Aires said.

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