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At the law office of Donovan & O’Connor, LLP, we know that cancer can sometimes be a difficult illness to diagnose. Skin cancer is no exception, although clues are often apparent on the skin, such as discolorations, lesions or abnormal moles. What if you have tattoos, though? Are you and other Massachusetts residents at an increased risk for a missed diagnosis of skin cancer if you are tattooed?

Researchers believe that having a tattoo does not necessarily raise your risk of developing skin cancer, if one of your concerns is the ink being carcinogenic. However, according to studies detailed in Australian Family Physician, there may be a link between the different types of skin cancers and a delayed or missed diagnosis among those with tattoos. Why is this so? The answer is that the ink itself can mask the signs of skin cancer. Dark or brightly colored ink may make it particularly difficult for a doctor to spot skin cancer’s early signs on your skin. For example, tattoos that disguise moles may also cover changes to a cancerous mole’s color or size. If you have a tattoo over a large area of skin, it may cover up any changes to skin texture or color, which are often early skin cancer warnings.

There are many dermatologists who have sufficient experience or equipment to help them detect skin cancers even with tattoos present. However, doctors can make mistakes, especially if they are not used to deciphering skin conditions under ink. Learn more about mistakes in diagnosing cancer by visiting our page.