Until she was diagnosed with melanoma in March 2009, Katie Donnar, now 18, was one of the 2.3 million US teens who tan indoors every year. A fair-skinned blonde who never used sunscreen, Donnar had tanned at salons since she was 13. When she started to compete in local pageants in 2008, her mother bought her a tanning bed, which she used up to four times a week for 20 minutes at a time.
When she was 17, Donnar noticed a mole on her left calf. The mole was removed, and found to be a melanoma. The Indiana teen was shocked. “I didn’t think it could happen to me,” she said. “I had read about skin cancer. I heard about the risks of tanning in sunbeds, but I thought it was sort of a myth.” Luckily, the melanoma had not spread, and today, Donnar uses sunscreen, wears protective clothes, and avoids UV tanning.