Tattoos may give false signs of cancer

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby


Tattoos may go a lot deeper than being your favorite piece of body art or a symbol of your personality. In fact, there’s a scary reality to that personalized ink: It can cause doctors to falsely believe that you have cancer.

A 32-year-old woman, who is actually battling cervical cancer, recently experienced this terror during a PET scan, a body-imaging test. The ink on from her tattoos that cover her legs and thighs caused the PET scan to light up, leading the doctors to believe that the cancer had spread.
Ramez Eskander, M.D., a California surgeon, told CBS Los Angeles that the ink led to the patients lymph nodes lighting up, a typical PET scan sign that cancer is present and prominent.

Scarily, it wasn’t until the doctors and patient were in the operating room that they realized it was the tattoo ink–not the cancer cells–that caused the spots to light up.

Since the woman had already been diagnosed with cervical cancer, she still had to have a hysterectomy, but luckily, she didn’t have to undergo radiation since the indication that the cancer had spread was merely caused by her tattoo ink.