Melanoma and tattoos

A case report published on July 31th in Jama Dermatology shows 16 melanoma cases hidden by tattoos. Tattoos may make moles evaluation difficult because the tattoo ink can hide atypical moles or melanoma. The ink can also permeate the underlying tissues and imitate the spread of metastatic melanoma.
Tattoo removal laser is also problematic when moles are present. The Laser itself eliminates the pigment within the tattoo, but can also eliminate the pigment within a neo suspicion, making its evaluation difficult with the possibility of development of amelanotic melanomas. A report suggests that laser therapy can delay the diagnosis of melanoma and there is also some concern – not so far proved – that repeated laser sessions can promote the transformation from moles to melanoma.
Here are two key lessons to take home from the JAMA report Dermatologists:

  • If you are considering getting a tattoo be sure that it will be done on a skin area free of snow or spots.
  • If you are planning to remove a tattoo, check the presence of snow within the tattoo. If a mole is detected you have to first make it evaluate by an experienced dermatologist before the laser therapy and eventually removed.