Do you have tattoos and are worried that if you ever get melanoma under the ink, the ink will make it spread or quicken the spreading?

And what about heavy inking on many areas of your body?

When one gets tattoos, they sacrifice the ability to efficiently inspect their skin for any signs of cancer – and this includes areas where there have never been any moles.

Two-thirds of melanoma tumors arise in the absence of moles.

But back to the original question: Is it at all possible for a tattoo or the inking process itself to affect the ability of a melanoma hiding beneath to spread or metastasize? 

“Tattoos cannot make an undiagnosed melanoma spread,” says Alpana Mohta, MD, DNB, a dual board certified dermatologist who specializes in clinical and aesthetic dermatology.

“The tattooing process involves injecting ink into the dermis, the second layer of the skin, while melanoma typically originates in the epidermis, the outermost layer.

“Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises from the abnormal growth of melanocytes, pigment-producing cells.

“It is crucial to diagnose and treat melanoma at an early stage to prevent its spread.

“However, tattooing does not contribute to the progression or metastasis of an undiagnosed melanoma.”

In order for melanoma to spread – meaning that the cancer cells multiply – there’d have to be an energy source.

Tattoo ink is not an energy source. The source of energy for cancer is oxygen and food intake, the two agents that keep any living organism alive.

A Tattoo May Conceal Melanoma

“Regarding the ink concealing a melanoma, tattoos can make it more challenging to detect melanoma during a visual examination,” says Dr. Mohta.

“The presence of pigment from the tattoo can mask the clinical features of melanoma, such as changes in color, irregular borders or asymmetry.

“This could delay the diagnosis of melanoma, as it may be harder to identify suspicious lesions in tattooed areas.”

Dr. Alpana Mohta is a dual board certified dermatologist and owner of Her areas of interest include clinical dermatology, dermatopathology and dermatosurgery. She has over 85 research publications in numerous journals. Apart from her regular medical practice, she is also a medical writer, reviewer and advisor for many companies. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


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