High risk

Melanoma far more dangerous for pregnant women

Photo by David Salafia via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Researchers have found that women diagnosed with the skin cancer melanoma during pregnancy or within one year of giving birth are nearly seven times more likely to experience metastasis — the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body — and more than five times more likely to die from skin cancer than women with melanoma who were not pregnant. Pregnant or recently pregnant women were also more than nine times more likely to see a recurrence of the melanoma in the next 7.5 years.

The new study, led by Dr. Brian Gastman, a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, looked at 462 women with melanoma who were younger than 50. Among them were 41 women who had been diagnosed with melanoma while pregnant or within a year of having given birth. Of that group, 20 percent died from melanoma, compared to 10 percent of the women who were not pregnant when they were diagnosed. Researchers are unsure why melanoma appears to be more aggressive in pregnant women, but believe it may have to do with hormonal changes and dampening of the immune system that occurs during pregnancy.

Read the full story at Live Science.

Photo via Flickr

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