Skin Cancer: Experts Suggest Teaching Tattoo Artist How To Identify Skin Lesions Can Help Detect Skin Cancer

First Posted: Jan 21, 2017 04:00 AM EST

Tattoo artists may not just work for art anymore. A new research suggests that tattoo artists may play a role in reducing cases of advanced skin cancer. It is simply because tattoos can sometimes hide skin cancers and make it harder for the doctors to diagnose cancer early.

In a report by Live Science, the researchers revealed that tattoo artists typically do not have the standard way of dealing with the moles that some of their clients have. Contrary to what would doctors suggest, many will just tattoo right away if the client will insist it.

However, in the new study, the researchers surveyed 42 tattoo artists last summer, in 2016. The researchers asked the artists with regard to their approach in dealing with moles and other skin lesions or conditions on their clients.

The results revealed that more than half or 55 percent of tattoo artists said that they refuse to tattoo clients with skin rash, lesion or spot. The researchers then asked why they decline to tattoo skin with the said cases. 50 percent said it is because they were concerned about the final appearance of the tattoo, 29 percent of the artists said they are concerned about skin cancer and 19 percent are concerned about bleeding in the client's moles.

As follows, the researchers also asked tattoo artists how they would deal with moles. 40 percent said they tattooed around the moles, but 43 percent said that they either tattooed over moles or follow what their clients asked them to do. However, 70 percent of tattoo artists said that their clients had ever asked them to avoid tattooing over a skin lesion or mole.

The researchers found that, "There has been a significant rise in melanoma incidence among young adults, some of the most frequent tattoo customers, making surveillance by tattoo artists especially important."

Meanwhile, the researchers suggest that future studies could follow tattoo artists over time and examine the effect of skin cancer education in this group.

Thus, the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh published their study in the journal JAMA Dermatology advise that tattoo artists could be taught how to recognize a suspicious skin lesion and encourage their clients to got to a dermatologist. The researchers added that, "Our study highlights an opportunity for dermatologists to educate tattoo artists about skin cancer, particularly melanoma, to help reduce the incidence of skin cancers hidden in tattoos."

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