What impact do pregnancy-related hormones have on skin cancer?

February 1, 2008

Although confusion persists among practitioners about the impact of pregnancy and female hormones on melanocytic nevi and melanoma, recent studies offer guidance for effective management.

Although confusion persists among practitioners about the impact of pregnancy and female hormones on melanocytic nevi and melanoma, recent studies offer guidance for effective management, according to a continuing medical education article published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Marcia S. Driscoll, MD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and a colleague reviewed recent clinical, epidemiologic and laboratory studies addressing areas of concern, including nevi changes during pregnancy, the characteristics of melanomas in pregnant women, and treatment for pregnant women who are diagnosed with melanoma. Other areas of concern addressed in the review include how the diagnosis of melanoma affects the prognosis for women before, during, or after pregnancy, and how to counsel women of childbearing age who are diagnosed with melanoma regarding future pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone therapy.

The article answers nine common questions, beginning with "Do nevi typically change during pregnancy?"

Driscoll MS, Grant-Kels JM. Hormones, nevi, and melanoma: an approach to the patient. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57:919-931.