A new study suggests pregnant women aren't putting themselves at greater risk for melanoma. That's one less worry for moms-to-be.
Pregnant women have A LOT to worry about—but according to a new study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, melanoma doesn't have to be one of them. Expectant mothers aren't more prone to developing the skin cancer because of their pregnancies, despite popular belief that the two are linked.
Note: That doesn't mean that you can skip the sunscreen. You should always be taking steps to protect your skin and staying vigilant about any changes that may need attention. Melanoma is a dangerous form of cancer, and you need to do what you can to prevent it.
But with that being said, you probably don't need to worry that your pregnancy will put you greater risk of adverse effects. According to the study a whopping 31 percent of melanoma malignancies are found in pregnant women, which certainly suggests the two factors are linked. The researchers believe there are other factors skewing these rates, though.
For one thing, there's the obvious: Pregnant women are logging many more doctor's visits than the rest of the population, so it's not surprising that an eagle-eyed doc might flag a suspicious mole and cancer might be diagnosed more during this time. There's also the fact that demographics for fertile women and those at risk for melanoma tend to overlap.
The researchers studied 156 women, all of whom developed melanoma during pregnancy, to examine this relationship. According to their findings, the disease presented itself similarly among pregnant and non-pregnant patients, and recurrence and survival rates appeared to be similar between the two groups as well.
"In general what is important to note about melanoma is that its incidence continues to increase fairly rapidly, particularly among young women in their 20s and 30s, the same group that would be affected by a pregnancy-associated melanoma," study co-author Mark Faries, MD, said, according to a Science Daily release. "So it's crucial to make sure that these women are getting appropriate screening and treatment....Pregnant patients should be screened for melanoma in a similar manner to non-pregnant patients and should be counseled that their prognosis is not adversely affected by pregnancy. This finding should be very reassuring to both the patients and physicians who are involved in their care."
However, it's important to remember that this study was based on observation of a small group. While these findings are definitely reassuring, it's important to remember that you need to take care of you: wear sun protection, and get regular skin cancer screenings—whether you're pregnant or not.