Ink and the lurking malignant melanoma

The popularity of “ink” or tattoos has skyrocketed in modern society. The simple tattoo of the past has been replaced by a new found art form with whole body parts tattooed.

Where does this fit into skin cancer? Certainly there is no evidence that ink causes skin cancer, however, to the untrained eye it certainly does hide or mask lesion change, which may indicate melanoma.

Melanoma is no different to any other form of cancer and left undetected will spread to other parts of the body. Early detection is crucial.

Case Study 1: 29-year-old male.

Unaware of moles present prior to undergoing “inking”. No previous history of having had a skin check and no known family history of Melanoma.

On examination a large suspicious “mole” within a tattoo was detected on his buttock. Colours and size masked by extremely heavy ink.

He took advantage of a skin cancer clinic held in his workplace and fortunately the lesion was detected.

Referred immediately off for excision and within several days he was diagnosed with a Level 3 Melanoma.

Case Study 2: 34 year old father of three children

Significant tattoo, however, not the heaviest of dark ink,

The patient was aware of the mole at the time of having the tattoo. Some time later he became concerned that it had undergone change in size.

He made an appointment with his GP who referred him on for excision. Level 2 Melanoma was confirmed.

The images show the small mole close to “the frog’s eye” and the subsequent excision required to remove the Melanoma

Message: A regular skin examination performed by your doctor should be undertaken if you have tattoos and If you are considering “ink” have a skin check first.

Visit Iamskincancer.com.au to learn the ABCDE of Melanoma detection

Post surgery