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Tattoos may hide malignant melanomas: study

August 7, 2013

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Karlsruhe, Germany – Having a tattoo placed on top of a mole or other pigmented lesion could make it harder to detect the most dangerous type of skin cancer, concludes a new study from the hospital Laserklinik Karlsruhe.

Researchers cited the case of a person who, during phases of receiving laser tattoo removal, developed malignant melanoma on a lesion under the tattoo. At least 16 other cases of malignant melanoma developing under tattoos have been reported.

Noting that a tattoo over a mole makes it difficult to diagnose melanoma, researchers advised never putting a tattoo in that spot and, if you already have one, not treating the area with a laser because it could remove irregular pigments that would indicate a melanoma. In the case of tattoo removal, they suggested having lesions excised before undergoing any laser procedure.

The study was published online July 31 in JAMA Dermatology.