If you’re pregnant and you’ve developed a spot on your skin, you might be thinking the worst – melanoma in pregnancy. So today, we thought we’d address that.
Pregnancy can do strange and wonderful things to a woman’s body. From lustrous hair and glowing skin to swelling ankles and stretch marks, it’s easy to see how changes to moles and spots on your skin might seem like just one more thing your body has decided is the new (if not temporary) normal now.
But don’t be misled. Absolutely your moles can and do stretch during pregnancy – particularly those over your breasts and belly. However a mole or other spot that’s darkening, changing in shape, or growth rate could still be abnormal. And it’s potentially a sign that may indicate the presence of melanoma in pregnancy.
Melanoma in pregnancy – some good news
Malignant melanoma is one of the most common malignancies to affect young women. It’s also the most common to affect pregnant women. You may even have heard that pregnancy itself increases the risk or speed of progression or invasiveness of melanoma. You can read our closer look at melanoma here.
The good news is that current research indicates that it doesn’t appear to be the case. Whilst pregnancy and its associated hormones can exacerbate other conditions, recent studies suggest that there’s no strong indication of a physiological connection between pregnancy and increased danger for those at risk of melanoma.
Tumour sizes and thickness remain about the same as the non-pregnant population. Plus disease progression does not appear to be affected by pregnancy-related hormone changes either.
But, melanoma in pregnancy can still happen.
Melanoma in pregnancy can sometimes be missed
The increased risks of melanoma in pregnancy are likely to result from decreased detection. And some women believe the physical signs of melanoma to be just a side-effect of pregnancy. The real problem is that the melanoma can be left untreated for longer than it otherwise might. And that can have poor outcomes.
If detected early, however, melanoma in pregnancy can be treated safely – the same way it would be for anyone else. Find out more about melanoma treatment here.
What should I do if I’m pregnant?
The upshot of this new information? Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. Do a DIY mole check monthly. Look for changes including darkening, asymmetry and new spots.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a skin cancer check, get one now. The best kind of melanoma is the one that doesn’t get a chance to grow. Technology allows us to diagnose melanomas that are just getting started. That means pinhead small or lumps and bumps that don’t look like anything you’d instantly recognise as a skin cancer.
When you get checked out your doctor will document and photograph anything to they want to keep an eye on. Hence, it can be worth having a check purely to know where and what to watch.
The thing about pregnancy – little risks can seem terrifying now that you’re responsible for the life of another.
There’s a lot of information and advice out there that can generate some serious anxiety. And anxiety overload isn’t great for mum or baby. Getting yourself skin cancer checked can alleviate some of that stress so you can get on with being excited about the important things like picking the perfect name and deciding who’s eyes your baby will have.
So if you’ve got a spot that might need to be checked, you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and you’ve been sunburned at some point in your life and haven’t had your skin checked by a skin cancer Dr yet (or for a while), please put your mind to rest and schedule a skin cancer check.
You can call us on 9999 0336 (Northern Beaches clinic) or 9223 1608 (Sydney City clinic). Or you can put your details in the form below. We’ll get back to you shortly with our next available appointment.
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Either way, it might be the best thing you do for yourself today.