Worse melanoma outcomes found in pregnant women

Now that it’s melanoma month, I’d like to turn my attention to something that has always gnawed at me. In the past, it’s been unfortunate for some of my patients to discover that they had melanoma while they were pregnant. It could have stemmed from just having a mole and not letting me remove it – but as their pregnancy wore on, the melanoma seemed to get more aggressive.

However, as much as I wanted my pregnant patients to be vigilant, I had nothing at the time to prove that melanoma worsened when you were pregnant. About two or three years ago, I looked into it to see if any research had been done on the topic, but came up short on hard facts.

Now, a new review of cases at the Cleveland Clinic has shown what I’ve always suspected to be true. The clinic compared 49 women who were pregnant or within a year of pregnancy at diagnosis, with 418 women of childbearing age who were not pregnant. All the patients had at least 2 years follow-up.

The results? Women who were pregnant or recently pregnant at the time of melanoma diagnosis were 5.1 times more likely to die of the disease than those who weren’t.

This means that if you’re pregnant and notice anything different about your skin, act upon it immediately! Not doing so can be fatal – and I’m sad to say that I’ve witnessed that firsthand. While I’m glad that there is finally evidence to back my theory up, I also fear for women who just don’t know enough about melanoma to keep an eye out for any signs that they could have it. Be vigilant, be safe and stay educated. Keep an eye out for the rest of our blogs this month as we continue to raise awareness during Melanoma Month!

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