Tattoos may be associated with medical complications including, albeit rarely, skin cancer. The features of a 46-year-old man who developed a basal cell carcinoma within a tattoo on his left scapula are described and the characteristics of the other 13 patients (7 men and 6 women) with tattoo-associated basal cell carcinoma are reviewed. The tumor usually occurs on the sun-exposed skin of individuals aged 60 years and older whose tattoo has often been present for 20 years or more. The pathogenesis of a basal cell carcinoma developing within a tattoo may merely be a coincidence. However, there is supporting evidence that the tattoo and the subsequent basal cell carcinoma may be coincident events whereby either tattoo injection-associated trauma or the tattoo pigments and dyes (in their native state or after ultraviolet radiation alteration) or both have a carcinogenic impact on the development of the basal cell carcinoma at that location.

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