While we know that hormones may have an impact on breast and ovarian cancer, there is no evidence to suggest that the risk of melanoma increases during pregnancy.
The notion that many women are diagnosed with melanoma during pregnancy is more due to their age – about one-third of all melanomas in women are diagnosed during their childbearing years. Pregnant women are also more likely to receive medical care, so a skin cancer may be detected that might otherwise have gone undiagnosed until it was more advanced and more dangerous.
Moles do not typically darken during pregnancy. Moles may sometimes enlarge if they are on an area of the skin that stretches during pregnancy, such as the abdomen or breasts. However, a mole that changes in color or appearance should be evaluated just as in non-pregnant patients. I recommend that pregnant women keep a close eye on their skin during pregnancy and see a dermatologist immediately if they notice anything new or changing, whether in a mole or anywhere on their skin.
About the Expert:
Marcia Driscoll, MD, is a dermatologist in Baltimore, MD, and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Maryland.