Pregnant women with melanoma skin cancer before, during or
after their pregnancy are at much higher risk from the cancer
as compared other women, according to the research
study led by Dr. Brian Gatman, a plastic surgeon
and melanoma surgery director at Cleveland Clinic.
The researchers estimated that almost one-third of melanoma cases, the most serious skin cancer form are diagnosed in women during their pregnancy years.
Because of the fact that many women of today are delaying their pregnancy until their mid-30s or 40, along with the other face that melanoma is a common cancer form for the young adults of 25 to 29 years old, more and more women can possibly develop melanoma before, during or after their pregnancy.
“The deadliest type of skin cancer may be fueled by the pregnancy hormones”, the researchers said. The metastasis rate or cancer spread, death and recurrence in their findings were really shocking as the rates were evidently much higher in pregnant women who were diagnosed with melanoma during their pregnancy, or within a year after their delivery.
The study observed at almost 500 women who were diagnosed with melanoma between the years of 1988 and 2012, or women who were aged 49 years or younger. The researchers looked at those women’s health for 2 years or more. However, their study was designed only to look for a link between the pregnancy and melanoma outcomes; not to show a cause-effect relationship.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Brian Gatman found that women who were diagnosed with melanoma during their childbearing years or within a year after giving birth were five times more likely to experience death from the cancer. They’re also 7 times more likely to experience fast cancer spread, and 9 times more likely to experience a cancer recurrence, as compared with the other women.
While being diagnosed, at any time, with melanoma can be scary as it causes great anxiety for a woman who’s pregnant, when looking at the whole body available evidence on the subject, there’s nothing to worry about the pregnancy adversely affecting the treatment or patient’s outcome. Likewise, it’s extremely rare case for the baby to get affected during the treatment – this is only noticed in the cases of women who already acquired the advanced melanoma, where the spreading of cancer has already occurred all over the body.
Another team of researchers led by Dr. Marcia S. Driscoll, FAAD, MD, explained that if a pregnant woman is diagnosed with a localized melanoma, then she can possibly receive the same treatment given to any other person – primarily, a wide local excision in order to remove the cancer/tumor. They explained that this treatment procedure shouldn’t be delayed and can be performed safely during pregnancy under the local anesthesia. In the cases where wide local excision is needed to be performed in pregnancy’s later stage, the obstetrician of patient should be involved and collaborate with dermatologist in order to monitor the baby (fetus) during the treatment process.
However, if the melanoma is sized deeper than 1mm, it is highly advised that a treatment known as the sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy must be taken into consideration. This kind of treatment hasn’t been studied in large group of pregnant women and both how and when the treatment should be performed during the pregnancy is very controversial. In some melanoma patients, this kind of treatment is considered as a routine procedure.