A retrospective study done at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia produced some alarming conclusions. Researchers showed that women who are diagnosed with melanoma during pregnancy or shortly after birth have higher risk cancers. The study revealed that women with melanoma during pregnancy have twice the risk of the melanoma metastasizing, or spreading to other parts of the body. They also have nearly ten times the risk of the melanoma returning after treatment!
It is unknown why melanomas that develop during pregnancy are more dangerous and aggressive. Current theories are that changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can induce cancer cells to grow more quickly and that lowered immune system activity during pregnancy also increases risk of cancer growth. Regardless of the reason, it is clear that melanoma during or shortly after pregnancy can be quite dangerous and should be taken very seriously. If you or someone you know has a personal or family history of melanoma and is pregnant or was recently pregnant be sure to get screened by a dermatologist. Any moles that change during pregnancy should be immediately evaluated by a dermatologist.
By: Tarek M. Fakhouri, M.D.