Laser tattoo removal and cancer prevention

US News and World Report wrote about a study published in JAMA Dermatology that concluded getting a tattoo over a mole can make melanoma/skin cancer detection difficult.  Removing that tattoo with a laser removes the melanocytes also making cancer identification difficult.  These cells are the pigment cells in a mole and are used in melanoma identification.  Dr. Hooman Khorasani of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City states, “It is harder to do surveillance on moles that are covered by tattoos, as the tattoo ink camouflages the mole and sometimes interferes with some of the tools we use for detection.” He goes on to say that if you do have moles under a tattoo that you should get skin checks twice annually instead of once.  The study authors advise that individuals who undergo tattoo removal need to be monitored during the process and if there are any suspicious moles, they need to be removed before getting lasered.

Dr. Khorasani notes that “Fifty percent of all melanomas develop in pre-existing moles.”  My daughter, Autumn, has a lot of moles and most of them are on her back where she can’t see them.  We don’t make many visits to the dermatologist but this is a good reminder to get that annual skin check.

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