• Perla Tiburcio

Woman's lymph node removed due to buildup of tattoo ink

Many people have tattoos without any infections or problems from them afterwards. However, one 30-year-old Australian women who was recently thought to have a type of cancer was actually suffering from the effects of the ink from tattoo that she got 15 years ago, according to her doctors.

The women realized that she had lumps under her arms two weeks before she went to her checkup at the clinic. Doctors thought she had lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system which removes toxins and other waste from the body. She didn’t show any symptoms of lymphoma, which includes fevers, weight loss, and excessive sweating, but she did show one of the main symptoms: inflammation of her lymph nodes.

Doctors later found that she also had affected nodes in her chest and on the roots of her lungs. When the node from her armpit was removed, they found that it contained a "cluster of immune cells that were loaded with black pigment." She was said to have had a hypersensitive reaction to the ink from a tattoo. At times, she would feel her skin itch and swell, but it would always look normal afterwards.

"'The skin has its own immune cells that are always surveilling the skin' ... Once these immune cells found the tattoo pigment, a foreign substance, they ingested it and traveled from the skin to the lymph nodes over a period of years," according to CNN and Dr. Bill Stebbins of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Stebbins recommends using a reputable tattoo artist and to "ensure that they are using disposable needles and unopened ink to avoid infection." People should also let their doctor know their tattoo history.

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