Monday 15 February, 2021

Tiny Tattoos from Cancer Treatment?

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You know the tiny tattoos you get when you’re going through radiation treatment? For those of you who do, scroll down here to learn about how Rethink can help you get your tattoo removed for free. For those of you who don’t, read on. 

What we’ll cover in this blog:
What are tiny tattoos used for in cancer treatment?
The mental health impact of an involuntary body modification
Rethink is offering free removal of cancer tattoos in Sweden

What are tiny tattoos used for in cancer treatment?

The majority of people who go through radiotherapy to treat cancer are marked with small black dots of ink to align their bodies with the radiotherapy machines and deliver the treatment accurately.

These marks are permanent and stay long after treatment for many people, and sometimes stretch over time. This permanent ink is often used on breast cancer patients, who have, on average, three tattoos.

There is research being conducted, such as surface guided radiotherapy, on how to conduct radiotherapy accurately and precisely without having to permanently mark the person going through treatment. However, hundreds of thousands of people have still been, and are still being, marked with these tattoos.

The mental health impact of an involuntary body modification

Though some people who’ve experienced cancer don’t feel strongly about the markings, the large majority of breast cancer patients had negative feelings about this involuntary body modification. Qualitative research shows that these women “experienced a lack of choice, disempowerment, and the realisation of the enormity of the cancer, given it required a permanent mark.”

After a person has successfully completed treatment and begins survivorship, these marks are a constant reminder of what they’ve been through. For some, these small tattoos aren’t of any large significance, but others feel they cannot move forward and get on with living without worrying about the tattoo being visible when wearing the same clothes as before, or in gym or beachwear. The visibility of these marks can spark questions from others and makes it hard to control whom and when we want to talk about our experience with cancer.

Of course, this can affect the mental health of people who go through radiotherapy as part of cancer treatment. Whether it’s the constant reminder of an experience you’re trying to move on from, a conversation starter that triggers a dark time, or not feeling a sense of control or authenticity over your own body, permanent ink markings from cancer treatment can have an impact on your mental health. This is because of the sense of loss that comes with going through cancer – whether that be a loss of control or identity (more on loss because of a cancer diagnosis here).

That’s why we’ve partnered with Rethink, a tattoo removal clinic based in Stockholm, to offer free removal of these tiny markings for anyone based in Sweden.

Rethink is offering free removal of cancer tattoos in Sweden

Rethink – a tattoo removal clinic based in Stockholm, is partnering with War On Cancer, and offering free removal of these tiny permanent marks for anyone based in Sweden.

Learn more about our partnership here and visit Rethink here to learn more about the process and book a time. Make sure to download the War On Cancer app to receive the discount code and get 100% off.


Rethink’s clinics are currently only available in Stockholm. Rethink and War On Cancer does not cover costs for trips or overnight stay, if needed, during tattoo removal treatment.

Rethinks kliniker finns just nu endast i Stockholm. Rethink och War On Cancer ersätter inte eventuell res- och boendekostnad om du behöver resa för att ta del av behandlingen.

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