New treatment available as doctors warn of skin cancer risk

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 14, 2015) – As summer approaches, doctors warn of the risks of the sun and skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

Now a new treatment is available for the most advanced forms, say doctors at St. Vincent Hospital.

Another blunt reminder came this week with pictures a woman in Kentucky posted to document her own battle with skin cancer.

The woman, Tawny Willoughby, she said posted the graphic photos after a treatment for skin cancer on her face.

Willoughby is only 27-years-old.

She said, as a teen, she tanned four to five times a week. Willoughby was first diagnosed with skin cancer at age 21.

Doctors say, in addition to tanning beds, the sun’s rays are also extremely dangerous.

According to the CDC, in 2011, the most recent year statistics are available, 65,647 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin; 9,128 people in the U.S. died from them.

The CDC also says men are more affected than women, though both have seen an increase over the last 10 years.

Locally, doctors at St. Vincent say a new treatment is available for advanced skin cancer.

“For melanoma there are some, I would call them research,” said Dr. Christopher Obeime, a dermatologist at St. Vincent Hospital. “They are new research drugs called Ipilimumab that may be a similar antibiotic that is extending the life. The life expectancy of these people has more than doubled since that drug came out.”

For protection, doctors say to wear SPF30 sunscreen or sun-protective clothing, like hats and long sleeves. Also, try to stay in the shade.

Click here for more on symptoms, causes and risk factors.

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