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Glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos could help treat skin cancer

Glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos sound like something you’d get on the boardwalk of the Jersey Shore, but a new type may help save the lives of skin cancer patients.

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Typically, people with skin cancer have to wait a few months between being diagnosed via biopsy and the surgical treatment. Currently, doctors mark the spot for possible future surgery using carbon graphite, India ink or fluorescent dye. Each of these pigments can permanently discolor the skin, requiring laser or surgical removal once the skin cancer treatment is completed. They can also cause inflammation around the site of the mark.

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But a new, more patient-friendly option is in the works: an ink that glows in certain lights and later totally disappears. In trials with mice, the invisible ink didn’t cause inflammation — another problem with the current methods. We’re all in favor of anything that makes the recovery process easier or less painful, so this is a promising development.

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