Pregnant Women, Kids and Skin Cancer

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD Health Guide
  • Hi everyone.  Today I want to talk about new or changing moles in kids and pregnant women as these two groups tend to have moles of concern that bring them into the dermatologist's office.  Overall, dermatologists prefer not to perform procedures on kids or pregnant women but we also do not want to miss a skin cancer on anyone!

     

    As any women who has been pregnant knows, many things about the body change during pregnancy, including the skin.  While there are specific rashes associated with pregnancy, new growths can appear and existing moles can change shape and size as the pregnancy progresses and hormone levels fluctuate.  In many cases, existing moles will become darker and larger, which of course causes concern.  In the majority of cases, this is normal, especially if multiple moles change or many new growths occur in a short time period.  However, melanoma and other skin cancers can appear in pregnant women just as commonly as in non-pregnant women.  For this reason, it is important to have any new or changing mole evaluated while pregnant. 

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    Many women will develop "skin tags", which are fleshy, usually small pieces of what appears to be "extra skin".   These small tags have a tendency to occur in areas where skin rubs against skin, such as in the underarm area or under the breasts.   While these lesions are annoying and can bleed when traumatized, they are benign.  At times, they become necrotic and appear black and can look like a skin cancer, but they are still benign at that point. 


    If a skin cancer is discovered in a pregnant woman, surgery remains a viable option to excise the lesion.  If the unfortunate circumstance of an advanced melanoma in a pregnant woman is discovered, then the oncologist would discuss medical treatments and the potential effects on the unborn baby.  Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence.

     

    Growing kids also present an interesting challenge for the dermatologist as they will often develop new and growing moles, especially during the teenage years.  The difficult question to answer is the following: is the mole growing and changing because the child is growing and changing, or is the mole growing and changing independent of the child's growth?  This is a difficult question to answer at times.  Most importantly, all the moles should be considered and compared. 


    If many moles appear to be simply growing with the child, then monitoring these moles on a yearly basis may be appropriate.   However, if one or several moles appear to be growing or changing at a much more rapid rate than the rest of the moles, then these should be biopsied to make sure they are not abnormal.  The usual signs of change in shape, size and color continue to apply. 

     

    Because pregnant women and kids both have growing and changing bodies, it is important to monitor all moles and new growths with monthly self skin exams.  Consult with your local dermatologist if there is any concern that a lesion is growing or changing.  Fortunately, the vast majority of skin growths are not cancerous but always be cautious and have these growths evaluated. 

Published On: April 09, 2007