Monday, August 5, 2013

Tattoos may hide skin cancer


Tattoos may make pigmented lesions and skin cancers particularly difficult to detect, according to recent research.

Researchers with Laserklinik Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany, and the University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, presented a case study of a 29-year-old male patient who developed malignant melanoma on a pre-existing nevus within a tattoo. The patient had been undergoing laser tattoo removal.

The patient had a tattoo that covered both of his arms and his chest for 10 years before undergoing treatment for removal. During the process, a mole on the patient?s shoulder that had been hidden with black ink was revealed, study authors reported. Treatment was halted until the patient underwent a mole removal and biopsy, which revealed melanoma. According to the researchers, 16 other cases of malignant melanoma hidden by tattoos have been reported in medical literature.

?Pigmented lesions in decorative tattoos cause diagnostic difficulties at a clinical and dermoscopic level. In cases of laser removal of tattoos, hidden suspicious nevi may be revealed gradually,? researchers stated.

Investigators recommended that before patients undergo tattoo removal, clinicians should thoroughly examining a patient?s skin. If a tattoo covers a known pigmented lesion, the lesion should not be treated with a laser, the authors concluded.

The study was published online July 31 in JAMA Dermatology.

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