Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Insitute from Cleveland Clinic, pregnancy increases the risk towards melanoma onset. But this is not only limited to the gestation period. In some cases, the risk towards skin cancer remains increased for up to a year after birth.
This analysis was applied to 1,200 women over the course of 24 years since 1988, with women up to the age of 49. All of the subjects were diagnosed with malignant melanoma. From this group, the ones who had melanoma during pregnancy had a 5.1 increase in mortality rates, 6.9 increase towards metastasis and 9.2 more likely to have melanoma recurrence.
The results made the researchers state that melanoma developed while gestating or in the follow-up period after birth was of much higher risk in comparison to average skin cancer. The reason why this occurs is somewhat similar to the risk increase presented by transplant patients. The patient’s body undergoes a dampening of the immune system in order for the body to not reject the transplanted organ, or in the case of pregnancies, the fetus.
This result is rather dire given the fact that skin cancer rates have doubled over the past 20 years. Of course, the overall decrease in resistance towards skin cancer is due to both environmental changes as well as lifestyle choices.
Due to their weaker immune systems, pregnant women had skin cancer spread throughout their body in 25% of cases, while those who were diagnosed with melanoma while not being pregnant had their chances marked at 12.5%. Doctors advise that if a woman knows she has an increased susceptibility towards skin cancer development, urgent screenings and dermatological tests have to be undergone prior to becoming pregnant.
When comparing those that were diagnosed with skin cancer during gestation to those that had melanoma prior or after pregnancy, the recurrence rate showed a rather great disparity. The latter had a recurrence risk of only 1.4% if immediate treatment was administered, while pregnant women had that rate increase almost tenfold, reaching 12.5%.
Bearing in mind how this study claims that pregnancy increases the risk towards melanoma onset, women should make a habit of going to regular skin cancer screenings as often as possible during gestation. But this should not be stopped after giving birth, with follow-up checks being advised as well during a period of one year after the pregnancy has ended because the immune system takes a while before it reaches normal security levels.