Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts," I have just completed radiation therapy, following successful neo-adjuvant chemo and a lumpectomy (1.5 cm). Can I have my radiation tattoos removed with a laser, or do I need to keep them?
Maggie Hampshire, BSN, OCN, Radiation Therapy Nurse at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
The ink used to tattoo you for treatment can be removed by a laser technique, just like laser tattoo removal for regular skin tattoos. However, we strongly advise against this, as these marks can help with your long-term follow up care. For example, during breast examinations, your physician will be paying a great deal of attention to the previously treated area while checking for tumor recurrence. In the unfortunate case that you would need radiation treatment again, your physician uses these marks to locate the exact area of prior treatment (i.e. "the radiation field"). So, while we understand that to you, these marks may be a painful reminder of your treatment, to us, they can be useful tools to help guide your care and monitor your post-treatment health.