A 30-year-old Australian woman was thought to have a type of cancer known as lymphoma due to the formation of small lumps on her body, but it turned out that the lumps were caused by her 15-year-old tattoo.
No, the tattoo did not cause the woman to have cancer. In another case of wrongfully diagnosed cancer, the woman was unexplainably only reacting to her tattoo after 15 years of getting it.
Old Tattoo Leads To Cancer Scare
A 30-year-old woman, whose identity has been hidden, consulted with doctors due to small lumps that formed under her arms. The lumps, which were already present for two weeks at the time, were initially diagnosed as lymphoma. A body scan revealed that there were more enlarged lymph nodes in the woman's chest, as well as around the roots of the lungs.
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, (this) will be lymphoma," said Royal Prince Alfred Hospital hematologist Christian Bryant.
However, when the enlarged lymph node was examined under a microscope, the doctors did not find signs of lymphoma. Instead, they discovered that the woman's immune system was reacting to the black pigment of a tattoo that she got at her back 15 years ago.
The woman's immune cells found the pigment of her tattoo, identified it as a foreign substance, and transferred it to her lymph nodes. However, the trigger that caused her immune cells to react to the tattoo many years after she got it remains a mystery.
It was the first time that Bryant and his colleagues came across such a case, which was chronicled in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Last month, a study revealed that tattoo ink nanoparticles can travel within the human body and end up in the lymph nodes. Apparently, this can also happen years after the person gets the tattoo, though the reason for the delay is still unclear to Bryant and his colleagues.
Tattoos And Your Health
The Australian woman's health scare over her tattoo was quickly resolved, but other people do not come out as lucky. Catt Gallinger, a 24-year-old woman, is one of the unlucky ones, as her attempt to have an eyeball tattoo turned for the worse. She is now at risk of going blind after a botched procedure.
Tattoos, however, can also help a person manage his or her health. A group of researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a smart tattoo that changes color to help its wearer monitor fluctuating conditions, such as high blood sugar or dehydration.