"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Melanoma and pregnancy: What you must know

May 1, 2023 – Research shows that 1 in 1,000 women are diagnosed with cancer while pregnant, and Melanoma is the most common type of cancer These patients are diagnosed. This type of skin cancer can fatal if not detected early.Studies show that one-third of melanoma cases are diagnosed in women of childbearing age.

Melanoma Detection is particularly necessary for expectant moms. This is because hormonal changes while pregnant can affect skin cells, which may speed up the expansion of melanoma and potentially cause it to spread to other parts of the body.

“Pregnancy weakens a woman’s immunity, which can promote the spread of malignant cells if they are present,” said Anna C. Pavlick, DOFounding director of the Cutaneous Oncology Program at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian and associate director of clinical research at Weill Cornell Medicine's Meyer Cancer Center in New York City. “Some melanomas also contain estrogen receptors that can be stimulated by pregnancy.”

The excellent news: Doctors can safely remove and treat melanomas while pregnant, so a girl in danger should definitely be screened for the disease before and while pregnant.

“Patients with pregnancy-related melanoma do not appear to have a worse prognosis than patients with melanoma not diagnosed during pregnancy,” said William Dahut, MDthe chief scientific officer of the American Cancer Society.

Read on to learn all of the life-saving facts you must know, plus an outline of the most recent research and treatment options.

What is melanoma?

“Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that develops in the skin cell that produces melanin, the pigment that determines skin tone,” said Danilo C. Del Campo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist on the Chicago Skin Clinic. “When these cells become cancerous, they grow rapidly and easily spread to other areas of the body.”

According to the American Academy of DermatologyA melanoma can develop from a mole that's already in your skin, or it will possibly appear suddenly as a brand new lesion.

“While one-third of melanomas arise in existing moles, two-thirds of melanomas arise in healthy skin,” says Dr. Lauren Ploch, a board-certified dermatologist with private practices in Aiken, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia.

Melanomas can occur anywhere in your skin.

“It can also appear in your eyes, mouth and genitals,” said Ross Radusky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist on the Dermatology Treatment & Research Center in Dallas.

What are the symptoms of melanoma while pregnant?

The symptoms of melanoma while pregnant are the identical ones you'll search for if you happen to weren't pregnant.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the “ABCDE” method can assist you discover a possible melanoma lesion in your body:

  • A stands for asymmetrical. Moles with irregular edges, like two halves that look noticeably different, are suspicious.
  • B is for irregular borders. Look for moles with irregular, jagged or notched borders.
  • C stands for color changes. Melanomas will be multicolored or their color can look uneven.
  • D stands for diameter. A brand new growth in a mole that's larger than 1 / 4 inch requires attention.
  • E stands for development. Is a mole growing, changing color or shape? These, together with latest itching or bleeding, are possible signs of melanoma.

“Most melanomas are dark and grow quickly,” Ploch said. “However, melanomas can also be colorless. I recommend that everyone see a dermatologist if they have spots that are new or changing in size, shape, color or character. Self-examination for new or changing spots is very important, and everyone should self-examine every 3 months.”

Pregnant women should examine certain parts of their body particularly fastidiously.

“Melanomas can also sometimes be missed, especially on the abdomen and back, because in the third trimester, the extra stretching and growth can hide worrisome spots for skin cancer,” Radusky said. Ask your partner or a friend to examine the areas you possibly can't see.

Can a girl pass melanoma to her baby while pregnant?

Melanomas can metastasize to the placenta, meaning a baby will be born with the disease if left untreated. But “it's extremely rare for melanoma to affect the baby,” Del Campo said.

According to the American Academy of DermatologyIf a mother has advanced melanoma, the placenta will be tested for the disease. If melanoma is found, her baby can then be examined by a dermatologist and monitored for any symptoms.

As a precautionary measure, some melanoma patients should avoid becoming pregnant for the primary or subsequent time for a certain time period.

“If a woman is diagnosed with high-risk melanoma before becoming pregnant, most oncologists recommend waiting two to three years to see if the patient will have a relapse before becoming pregnant,” Pavlik said. There aren't any restrictions for girls with an early diagnosis and a great prognosis.

Can a girl be safely treated for melanoma while pregnant?

Yes, said Area.

“The vast majority of melanomas are treated by excision on an outpatient basis,” she said. “This can be done at any time during pregnancy.”

If melanoma is detected early, the expectant mother can undergo this procedure and can most probably have a superb end result.

If a pregnant person is diagnosed with melanoma at a more advanced stage, other treatment options are also available. If doctors imagine the melanoma is deep within the skin, a special test called Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) it will possibly be determined whether it has spread.

“Sentient lymph node biopsy is controversial because it uses isosulfan blue as a dye, which carries a high risk of allergic reactions, and technesium 99, a radioactive metal,” Pavlik said. Ultrasound monitoring is generally performed as a substitute.

“Systemic agents used in advanced or metastatic melanoma can harm an unborn baby, such as a combination of BRAF and MEK inhibitors and checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy,” Dahut said. Ask your doctor to clarify intimately the treatment options which are best for you.

Most importantly, a pregnant patient diagnosed with melanoma requires ongoing care and monitoring.

“Pregnant melanoma patients should be closely followed by a multidisciplinary team including a surgical oncologist, a medical oncologist and a dermatologist,” Pavlik said. Be proactive about your health and do every thing you possibly can to guard yourself and your baby.