Experts found a plausible common denominator linking skin cancer and pregnancy. Pregnant moms, however, shouldn't ignore skin conditions that could develop while their baby belly grows. What should pregnant moms watch out for as melanoma indicators and who are most at risk?
It's normal for a pregnant woman's skin condition to change. This is because a woman heavy with a child has increased hormones. More hormones, however, could also trigger melanoma development. Hence, melanoma during pregnancy is a commonly diagnosed condition among moms.
Other doctors say the skin condition arises because a mom's body is more focused on the baby's healthy growth. "[The] body is really focusing its efforts on growing another human being, so it's a little distracted on really taking care of itself," melanoma oncologist Dr. Sapna Patel said, as per Today.
The good news is melanoma during pregnancy is a safe and treatable condition. More so, if it's detected early. Considering how fast melanoma spreads, it's not wise to leave this untreated. Doctors at the American Academy of Dermatology endorse melanoma screenings for pregnant women as a matter of early intervention and treatment.
Those most at risk are women who have experienced bad sunburns, or have used tanning beds, or have melanoma history in the family. Women who have discovered irregular mole growths or skin eruptions, itchiness, blotches and patches on their body should also schedule a visit to the doctor.
"If melanoma gets deep enough that it spreads by invading a blood vessel and the melanoma cells can travel throughout the body they also can travel across the placenta and affect the baby," New York dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky said, as per Baby Center. For one's peace of mind, it's better to see an expert and confirm if the skin changes are harmless.
Doctors will do a skin biopsy using a safe local anesthetic to remove any suspicious growth. Doctors will also require interferon injections in some cases.
More aggressive treatments like radiation therapy could be required depending on the case. It's rare for the baby in the womb to develop melanoma but it can happen. Learn more on skin cancer and pregnancy in the video below.