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Pregnancy Hormones Up Melanoma Severity

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Pregnant woman in the sun

A new study by Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Institute shows that pregnancy hormones can increase the severity of melanoma, increasing the chances of death, metastasis and recurrence for the mom-to-be or new mom. As many skin care professionals are aware, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Increased Severity from Hormones

The researchers believe pregnancy hormones are advancing the cancer. They found women diagnosed with malignant melanoma during pregnancy or within the first year of giving birth were

  • 5.1 times as likely to die,
  • 6.9 times as likely to experience metastasis and
  • 9.2 times more likely to have a recurrence.

The Study

To collect in-depth data of cutaneous melanomas developing in 462 women aged 49 years or younger, the case-control study used a clinical database of electronic medical records.

All female patients with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of melanoma between 1988 and 2012 were included in the study; however, patients with a follow-up of less than two years were excluded.

“We saw significant, worse prognoses and outcomes for women with a pregnancy-associated melanoma, compared to a control group of non-pregnant women,” said Brian Gastman, M.D., plastic surgeon, director of melanoma surgery at Cleveland Clinic and primary investigator on the study. “The rate of metastasis, recurrence and death in our findings were astounding—as the rates were measurably higher in women who were diagnosed with melanoma while pregnant, or within one year after delivery.”

Cancer Safety

The clinic recommends women below 50 years of age, especially those who are pregnant, to be aware of changing skin lesions and maintaining dermatology checkups as rates of melanoma are rising.

Additionally, wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, avoiding tanning beds and seeking shade to avoid harmful UV rays is suggested. 

Encourage your pregnant clients and new moms to stay out of the sun and use sun protection diligently. Help them choose their sun care from your retail and help them check for any suspicious spots.

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