Semipermanent ink could soon be used in radiation treatment

Researchers said early data backs safety and efficacy of made-to-fade medical markings.

Permanent tattoos could soon be a thing of the past for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, thanks to early research backing the safety and efficacy of biodegradable ink used for medical markings.

Ephemeral Tattoo plans to make its made-to-fade tattoo ink—which is composed of FDA-approved ingredients—available later this year. It will serve as an alternative to the more permanent ink used to mark the skin of cancer patients to ensure radiation therapy is accurately delivered. The company is “finalizing the initial group of providers” with whom it will collaborate.

The announcement follows a study in which Henry Ford Health researchers, in conjunction with Ephemeral, gave a total of 44 semipermanent tattoos to 15 patients set to undergo radiation therapy.

The tattoo ink is applied similar to a traditional tattoo: via a needle into the skin. However, the ink breaks down and disappears over several weeks—longer than other nonpermanent options, like henna, that don’t last the six to eight weeks required for some radiation courses.

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