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All TopicsForum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After → Topic: Anyone used a Tanning bed since radiation?

Topic: Anyone used a Tanning bed since radiation?

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After — What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Apr 11, 2010 08:57PM

Krissy37 wrote:

Hello

I had raditaion treatment about a 1 1/2 years ago for DCIS, Stage 0, no nodes, no chemo..  I have stayed out of the sun since then.  I was told to stay covered up for a year following radiation treatment, which I have done.

I would like to hear from anyone who has gone to a tanning salon since their radiation,  What did you use on your skin, and did you have any problems?

Thanks 

Dx 3/19/2008, DCIS, Right, 5cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Apr 12, 2010 09:08AM , edited Apr 12, 2010 09:14AM by CTMOM1234

Krissy - Today will mark my last full breast treatment (#25 of 25 zaps then I just have 5 boosts). So I'm almost done.

No offense, but if I can at all help it, I will NEVER expose myself again to unnecessary exposure, including ultraviolet from tanning beds. When my collarbone area began getting itchy and red about 4-5 weeks into treatment, my rad. onc. mentioned that this sort of reaction is common in previously tanned/burned areas (believe she called it "sun poisoning").

I'm young and active, take no medications and other than BC, have zero issues that I'm aware of. I do not want to add melanoma to my short list. Nor do I ever want to think that I "caused" myself  problems.

When I grow up I want to be an old woman. Jan'10 lump.for grade 2 DCIS;SURPRISE1.75mm grade 2 idc in path report,stage 1a; Jan'10 snb 0/3 nodes; Mar-Apr'10 rads: 25 full+5 boosts prone position, stickers/no tats; May'10 declined tamox. Doing fine. Dx 11/1/2009, ER+/PR+
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Apr 12, 2010 10:46AM 3monstmama wrote:

Obviously, this is a personal decision but I'm with CTMOM1234----I confess, I didn't get tanning beds pre breast cancer and I get them less now.  My understanding, is that with no known family history of breast cancer, I may already have more of a chance with other cancers--including skin cancer--as well.  I wouldn't want to risk it especially when there are so many good light weight foundations that can give the same effect without the skin damage.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
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Apr 12, 2010 12:00PM FitChik wrote:

Krissy...I had never used a tanning bed UNTIL my diagnosis. As my hair, eyebrows and lashes fell out, I began to feel more & more self-conscious and unattractive. So I started to tan weekly and soon felt like a total babe. Once I reached rads, I was hooked and told the rad onc that I would be sure to put a small towel over the affected breast that was getting the rads. She probably thought that I was nuts (just like everyone else did), but she just left it up to me. Once treatment ended and my rad tan started to fade, I left the towel off and continued tanning. I did this for four years, but last year I noticed an odd patch on my chest and had it checked out. Yup, it was cancer, squamous cell in situ. The derm removed it and advised me to stop tanning. So far I haven't been back, but I sure am aching to go.

So that's my story. I completely agree with all of those warning about the dangers. Tanning IS crazy. But having a tan....well, you know. Ugh. Undecided

~Marin

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." ~Nora Ephron
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Apr 12, 2010 12:10PM ICanDoThis wrote:

Well, I'm actually using one on Doctor's orders. My Vitamin D level was 8. I was emotionally exhausted, physically in incredible bone pain, and my calcium and parathyroid were heading inexorably upwards.

After several appointments with endocrinologists, during which it was determined that I was also osteoporotic, we started trying to get the D up. Got it into the 20s, with 1ce weekly 50,000 IUs, but it was stubborn.

Then DH and I went to Hawaii for a week, to celebrate one year after finishing treatment. I tan like a son-of-a-gun, that's just my skin, and we spent a ton of time snorkeling and walking around mountains.

When we got back, I had an appointment with my endocrinologist. I was brown, and my D levels were nearly 50. My parathyroid and calcium levels were normal, for the first time in years.

She recommends tanning bed. Still doing good. I do one month treatments, 1 month off.

I am going to quit this month, as we're heading into summer, but so far, no problems.

Will report back what endocrinologist says, after follow-up appointment in June.

Marin's right, that it can be dangerous. But it's kind of fun to have an excuse.

Sue - Proud to be Krista's Mom Dx 12/28/2007, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 15, 2010 10:03AM rkolycius wrote:

Krissy, I started tanning a year later but always cover my boobs. The thought of another burn of my boob is horrible. But the rest of me is OK. I take it very slowly though. (Living in Alaska if you don't lie in a bed you can go crazy!!!) Good luck.

Dx 12/24/2008, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Apr 17, 2010 10:30PM Estepp wrote:

hmmm. I better call my rads onco...

I finished rads almost a year ago... and I tan about three times a week to get ready for summer.. myD levels were soooooooo low...4.. my chemo onco told me to GET out in the sun daily for 15-20 min. and expose as much of my body as I can ( due to cold weather).. and when I cannot get out.. or it is not sunny...tanning bed. Now.. he said just 5 min a day in a tanning bed.. but I tan 10-12 minutes... 3 times a week.. as I like the color.

Does having radiation make us at risk for Melanoma from the sun or tanning?

I am not asking about other types of skin cancer.. I have had those..but the only one I personally would worry about is Melanoma ( usually found in moles and birthmarks... not from sun)

We are the Ta Ta Sisterhood! Her2+ BC is what I had.... and yes sisters.. I had lymph node involvement...Plus Radiation AND Implant only Reconstruction. DX 6/25/08
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Apr 18, 2010 06:51PM geewhiz wrote:

YIKES GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stick to the lower times for tanning beds, if you use them at all!!  My sister developed melanoma (insitu THANK GOD!) that the onc attributed to tanning beds. Current school of thought is they will be gone before too long ---too dangerous!!

If you are desperate for the color, maybe look into the spray tan or the Jergens lotions that tan...I know they have chemicals, but they must be better than the tanning beds!! There are also some cool tinted moisturizers on the market! 

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Apr 18, 2010 06:55PM Estepp wrote:

Was her melanoma in a mole or freckle o birth mark that grew after being in the sun?

We are the Ta Ta Sisterhood! Her2+ BC is what I had.... and yes sisters.. I had lymph node involvement...Plus Radiation AND Implant only Reconstruction. DX 6/25/08
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Apr 18, 2010 07:01PM lexislove wrote:

I have tried tanning beds in the past.....but not much. They scare me now.

I actually today had a spray tan done (I leave for Las Vegas tomorrow). Called a "mystic tan" the whole thing took less than 2 minutes! It was great and the color is starting to show now. I was told to wait 24 hours to see the full results. I'm very happy with it.

Maybe try the spray tan?

Dx:2007, 2B, Triple+, June 2008:Lupron,Zometa,Tamox.Jan 2010:Poor metabolizer of Tamox switch to Femara.Feb 2010: cyp2d6 test reliable? Back to Tamox. Ooph soon.
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Apr 18, 2010 07:12PM , edited Apr 18, 2010 07:15PM by CTMOM1234

Below content is provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, link is http://www.everydayhealth.com/fda/tanning-risks.aspx:

"Exposure to UV radiation - whether from the sun or from artificial sources such as sunlamps used in tanning beds - increases the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to getting severe sunburns, especially at a young age.

In July 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, concluded that tanning devices that emit UV radiation are more dangerous than previously thought. IARC moved these devices into the highest cancer risk category: "carcinogenic to humans." Previously, it had categorized the devices as "probably carcinogenic to humans." 

Note: I look great tan and erred in using tanning beds back in my 20s. No more such errors in my future.

When I grow up I want to be an old woman. Jan'10 lump.for grade 2 DCIS;SURPRISE1.75mm grade 2 idc in path report,stage 1a; Jan'10 snb 0/3 nodes; Mar-Apr'10 rads: 25 full+5 boosts prone position, stickers/no tats; May'10 declined tamox. Doing fine. Dx 11/1/2009, ER+/PR+
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Apr 20, 2010 05:58AM ICanDoThis wrote:

I did want to re-emphasize - there are at least 2 of us who are tanning on doctor's orders.

It's not like I don't understand the risks. I do.

But Vitamin D deficiency at the levels that Estepp and I had is really debilitating (to the point where it interfered with my ability to work), and can cause a lot of problems like osteoporosis.

I am coming to believe as I get older that everything is a trade-off, and to realize that I am going to die of something. I consulted a dietician who told me to go back on butter, because we understand what it does to our systems, and we have no idea what margarine is screwing up. 

I have a friend who says that the only time he experiences moderation is when he is passing through on his way to the opposite extreme. I need SOME sunlight, SOME fats, SOME exercise. I just need to figure out what the appropriate level of SOME is. 

Sue - Proud to be Krista's Mom Dx 12/28/2007, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 20, 2010 06:22AM Estepp wrote:

Well said Sue.

We are the Ta Ta Sisterhood! Her2+ BC is what I had.... and yes sisters.. I had lymph node involvement...Plus Radiation AND Implant only Reconstruction. DX 6/25/08
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Apr 20, 2010 06:46AM Mouse6 wrote:

I don't know guys...I have to respectfully disagree with the "for tanning" arguments. Maybe I don't have all the information, but shouldn't you be able to receive enough vitamin D through supplementation or injections? I do know that it takes quite a bit of time to build it back up, so you have to take a lot of it until you're back to normal, then most docs recommend about 2,000 IU/day after your levels are back to normal.

I have a feeling that many people use vitamin D as an excuse to get a tan. Hey, I like tanned skin as much as the next person (makes you look thin, healthy, glowy...all that), but I'm not eating cruciferous vegetables and drinking pomegranite juice just so I can get another kind of cancer! Hells no! And I don't think covering up the radiated area is the point. You're exposing the other areas of your body too. I suppose it's a personal choice, and some may feel like cancer is a small price to pay to be brown. I personally just don't get how you can go through cancer treatment and want to increase your risk in ANY WAY for having to do it again. I just don't get it.

By the way, I heard the mystic tan is amazing - very natural colour that lasts for a few weeks. A friend of mine did it before she went away in the winter and she loved it! Although, I also wonder what's in it.

What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny compared to what lies within us. (Emerson) Dx 10/16/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/16 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 20, 2010 07:00AM , edited Apr 20, 2010 07:04AM by CTMOM1234

Well said Mouse6.

My sister-in-law was diagnosed with melanoma last year -- now she avoids the sun and tanning beds.

When I grow up I want to be an old woman. Jan'10 lump.for grade 2 DCIS;SURPRISE1.75mm grade 2 idc in path report,stage 1a; Jan'10 snb 0/3 nodes; Mar-Apr'10 rads: 25 full+5 boosts prone position, stickers/no tats; May'10 declined tamox. Doing fine. Dx 11/1/2009, ER+/PR+
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Apr 20, 2010 07:15AM ICanDoThis wrote:

On 2000 IUs a day, my Vitamin D goes below 10 within weeks. I'm going to an endocrinologist at a major university hospital, and I have to trust what she recommends.

I don't doubt that some people use it as an excuse, but that is not my problem. I'm not going for brown, I'm not brown, I'm just beigeWink.

I don't want melanoma, but I cannot seem to survive without SOME light on my skin. And a lot more women die of osteoporosis than die of either breast cancer or skin cancer.

I don't think we are going to resolve this issue here.

Sue - Proud to be Krista's Mom Dx 12/28/2007, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 20, 2010 03:28PM Krissy37 wrote:

Thanks for all who have responded.  I do agree that the issue of tanning or not is a personal choice, and I knew  there would be those who disagree with it altogether, and their reasons why. That is why I started this topic to those "Who have used a tanning bed after radiation" and was looking to hear from those gals that have. 

I believe it would be an endless debate, and that's not what my intention was when I asked the question ;) 

Krissy

Dx 3/19/2008, DCIS, Right, 5cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Apr 20, 2010 03:32PM PauldingMom wrote:

After chemo. and rads. I had an all over mole check. Had three removed and sent for analysis. One came back abnormal. No way do I go out in the sun with out a SPF 50 and tanning beds are O U T. There is a 70% chance of getting skin cancer from them. So no way and no way is my family going there either. The choice is up to you, but I would rather be tan naturally and normally as mother nature intended than have to deal with another type of cancer.

Remember the women on the Titanic who passed up the dessert cart. Erma Bombeck Dx 5/27/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 20, 2010 07:59PM Estepp wrote:

I want to ask this question, although, I do know the answer from my oncologist and dermatologist. ( I am so moley I have to see him yearly.. have for 15 years... had a skin cancer removed from my nose when my Plastic put in my implants)

Do you get melanoma ( the only deadly form of skin cancer)  from the sun?

We are the Ta Ta Sisterhood! Her2+ BC is what I had.... and yes sisters.. I had lymph node involvement...Plus Radiation AND Implant only Reconstruction. DX 6/25/08
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Apr 21, 2010 07:07PM Mouse6 wrote:

Krissy - Totally understand that you wanted to hear from women who HAVE done tanning beds after radiation. I guess it's hard to see a post like this on a cancer website and not comment.

ICanDoThis - Hope I didn't offend you with my comments. What I wrote is just an opinion and was not directed at any one person. Like I said above, it's hard not to comment when you're fighting this battle.

What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny compared to what lies within us. (Emerson) Dx 10/16/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/16 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 22, 2010 05:09AM ICanDoThis wrote:

Estepp - yeah, most melanomas come from sun exposure. Today, it's all of us who roasted on the beach with baby oil, used to be farmers who were out in the fields.

 Mouse - I wasn't offended. I'm just trying to point out that we each have to individually balance our life choices, based on what is the most critical issue for us. Heck, it took me six months to get comfortable with the idea of no chemo! And here I am, exposing myself to tanning beds? But I feel SO much better.
Like Ontario, Michigan has damned long winters!

Sue - Proud to be Krista's Mom Dx 12/28/2007, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 22, 2010 05:35AM Mouse6 wrote:

Amen...welcome SPRING!

What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny compared to what lies within us. (Emerson) Dx 10/16/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/16 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 22, 2010 06:00AM , edited Apr 22, 2010 06:08AM by Bren-2007

I've had skin cancer since I was 29.  I was a sunworshipper (yep .. baby oil on my body and lemon juice on my hair).  Now I have scars from skin cancer on my chest, lips, nose, chin, cheeks, arms and hands ... cause I didn't give up tanning until my early 40's.  My dad and uncle had melanoma .. my dad was a rancher and my uncle an undersea diver.  At 54, I now have sun spots on my face, scalp, hands, arms and legs.

I still wear a tank top when working in the yard .. but since radiation 3 years ago, I always put sunblock on my chest.  I worry that if my cancer should come back, my chest skin will have been destroyed from rads and 50 years of sun, and affect any chance of reconstruction.  I also worry about melanoma, but my dermo keeps a close watch on me. 

I have terrible depression in the winter .. and will sit outside in the snow with my face in the sun .. just to feel the rays.  I thrive in the warm weather and sunshine.

I can certainly understand people with a low D count needing the sun, as I need it to stay out of sadness.

But, I read you only need about 15 minutes a day w/o sunglasses (for regular people) to get your D. 

I never used a tanning bed .. too scared of the tight space .. but I sure understand the feeling we get from a nice healthy bronze color on our skin.  BTW ... I'm fair-skinned, but tanned nicely.  I use Jergens tanning cream now on my legs and it's a very nice realistic color.

Bren (another sunworshipper)

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Apr 22, 2010 06:50PM Piffken wrote:

Hi ICanDoThis,

I am just curious as to what your symtoms were? From the posts I have read, it sounds like I may be experiencing the same thing and have been trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I have seen different doctors, tried vitamins, had my blood tested, been put on anti-depressants and nothing seems to help. I am soo tired and exhausted that I need to take a break after taking a shower. On weekends, I don't have energy to do anything and haven't been out with my kids in awhile. When I have to go to work, it takes me forever in the morning to get ready and I end up getting to work later and later each day. I'm worried becuse there has been no improvement and I don't want it to become a serious problem at work for me. So far everyone is still understanding and blaming after effects of chemo but I don't really think that this is the cause. Any thoughts? Thanks. Piffken

Dx 9/4/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/10 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 23, 2010 06:20AM , edited Apr 23, 2010 06:21AM by ICanDoThis

I'm no doctor, so understand that I'm just describing my own experience.

I was exhausted, and depressed. The thing that scared me was the bone pain. Everything ached, and some places were so bad that the pain would wake me up at night. My understanding is that these are normal symptoms post-chemo - But I didn't have chemo.

But it is a question worth asking, and it's a really simple blood test.

If you do research on Vitamin D (especially for survivors), you'll see people talking about getting their Vitamin D levels up to 100, but I experienced a significant improvement in symptoms just getting my number over 20. Doc did that by giving me 50,000 ius of D 2ce a month for 6 months, plus 1000 supplemental D.

There are different kinds of D - D3 seems to be the most useful, but some docs give D2 on purpose in high doses to get numbers up quickly.

I guess I would say, it can't hurt to see.

I'd also say, give yourself a break. Everybody expects us to be back to normal right after treatment ends. But, inside, that's when we let our guards down, and many of us fall apart - realizing, holy shit - I had cancer - I could have DIED - I think I'll have a nervous breakdown now.

[[[Piffken]]]

Sue

Sue - Proud to be Krista's Mom Dx 12/28/2007, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 28, 2010 01:44PM suz45 wrote:

I here you all, and we will all differ in opinion. I just finished chemo and 25rads and was going on vacation to mexico for a week before I had a double masectomy with 19 nodes on the right side removed. The left nodes were done in 07 along with a lumpectomy chemo then 15rads.

I asked my radiation Oncologist what she thought about me using a suntan bed for a few sessions before my vacation and she gave me the thumbs up. Its not something I would personally do on a really reg basis. But Ive always used them to start a vacation tan. (I do cover the radiated areas)

Sigh the surgery was done 2 weeks ago and I would much rather be back on vacationUndecided

There is no perfect answer. Hugs Suz

Laugh your heart out, dance in the rain, cherish the memories & ignore the pain, love and learn, forget & forgive. Remember you only have one life to Live. Dx 11/25/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, 8/23 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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May 14, 2010 09:17AM Krissy37 wrote:

Thanks to all for your responses and experiences :)

Dx 3/19/2008, DCIS, Right, 5cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jun 9, 2010 07:09PM , edited Jun 9, 2010 07:15PM by Liz08

I'm no doctor either but after skimming some of the posts I feel that I need to share my story.

I've had a few skin cancers on my scalp from which now I have a few unattractive craters(bald spots & scars) on my scalp from my surgeries that I have to try to cover up with my hair.  Very rare place to get skin cancer too.   No family history of breast or skin cancer either. 

I was told by my skin surgeons & my dermatologists to be sure to "stay away from tanning beds cause they will killl you".   The words in quotes are exact words my doctors used.  Melomomas are on the rise with the highest percentage coming from tanning bed users.  I've never used tanning beds but I am a former sun worshiper and was told that now I have a 100% lifetime risk of getting more skin cancers of any kind.  I love the sun & especially the beach, it makes me feel sooooo good Cool.  My picture of heaven is the beach on a sunny day with a blue sky.  Just talking about it makes me feel betterSmile.  Now I have to avoid the sun as much a possible(during peak hours), always wear a hat in the sun & lather on tons of sticky suncreen ...yuk what funFoot in mouth.

Additionally I have been warned that tanning beds are addictive which makes alot of sense when you think about the actions of those who use them. Many of those who use tanning beds have a hard time stopping.   I was told the tanning bed lights somehow alter the brain chemicals (I don't recall the particulars).

Remember that there is no chemo that works on melonoma.  Having a tan boots one's self confidence. The sun and the tanning bed lights do something to make one feel emotionally better, the same effect light therapy for depression.

Keep in mind.....you fought cancer before, why take the risk of having to battle it again in the future.

For those who are interested, I have tried numerous self tanners which were horrible but the Lavera sunless tanner is OK.  

Wishing everyone the best.

Dx: 1/16/08, Stage T1mic, DCIS, < 1mm microinvasion, ER-/PR-, Her2+, 0/1 nodes