Monday, February 1, 2016

Healthy Habits: Pregnancy and Melanoma

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, women who are pregnant or recently pregnant have an increased risk of developing more serious cases of melanoma. Doctors commonly tell patients that their moles may darken, grow and change during pregnancy, which is true but that does not mean that all of those changes are benign.

I had a chance to interview Dr. Michael Swann, board certified dermatologist in Springfield, MO, to learn more. He said:

During pregnancy there are elevated levels of hormones that stimulate the activity of pigmentation cells.  These stimulated melanocytes are more vulnerable to errors that lead to melanoma.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy may inhibit a mother's immune system as well.
Pregnant mothers are often very careful with their bodies during pregnancy and the darkening of moles and other  areas of their skin and mucous membranes.  Many women notice skin darkening within even the first trimester of pregnancy.  When skin biopsies are warranted during pregnancy, they can be performed using local anesthetic without epinephrine to limit risk.  Although transplacental metastsasis is rare in melanoma, pregnant women with more advanced melanomas would benefit from a multidisciplinary approach giving careful consideration to fetal risk from melanoma and also treatments to the mother.

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