Newly diagnosed and pregnant

Posted By
3/20/2017 6:34pm
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Replies: 8

Hello there. I have been newly diagnosed with melanoma. The mole was removed a week ago, they said it was 1.2mm. I am being referred to the oncologist next week and general surgeon this week. I am also 3 months pregnant. I received a copy of the path report today. States "at least stage 4" which I am assuming refers to clarks as they can't stage it until more testing is done?

i spoke with my general dr (the derm is the one who diagnosed and referred me). She said since the area was so small it is really nothing to worry about.. but from what I am reading that is not necessarily true?

im wondering what to expect for the larger excision by general surgeon and how they find out if it has spread and to lymph nodes which they mentioned? Sorry so long! 

First of all I am so sorry this had to come about at such a time. You are not alone, there are many others who have been diagnosed while pregnant. With the depth of 1.2mm you'll need a sentintel lymph node biopsy, that is how they check and see if it spread to nearest lymph nodes. I would really suggest finding a melanoma specialist, especially being a bit more of a sensitive case being pregnant. Your general doctor knows very little about dermatology, especially skin cancer. General medical school goes over dermatology in 2 weeks... and then it's up to the docs to personally learn more if they so choose. So, unfortunately that is how many people go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed because primary doctors just don't know enough (and we think they know a whole lot more... I found out the hard way about general docs not knowing about skin cancer well enough). So, I am very glad you went to a dermatologist and did get this biopsied. Hopefully some others on here who have gone through this while pregnant will comment as well and share their story with you. 

All the best,


Jenn - stage IV NED - Completed Ipi/Nivo (Yervoy/Opdivo) + surgery

Thank you for replying! I'm trying to stay away from google and worry unnecessarily just yet! 

Kim K - (3/21/2017 - 6:31pm)

You are NOT stage IV but rather your tumor was at least a Clark level 4 which is NOT the same thing!  Docs get this wrong all the time and we freak out when terms like stage and level are used interchangeably.  They are not the same thing.

You need a sentinal node biopsy BEFORE they do the wide excision.  Due to your pregnancy they might just use the dye and not the combination of the radioactive tracer and dye.  It will be a judgement call since after 3 months all of your baby's organs have formed and the amount of radiation may not make a difference versus increasing the accuracy of the SNB.  Then again, your docs might not feel it is worth the risk to add the radiactive tracer.

Once that comes back you will either stay your current stage or move up depending on spread.  Hopefully all is negative and you will only need frequent monitoring by your derm & oncologist, as well as enjoy being a mom.

Sorry, but the waiting always sucks and you need to finish your staging first.  Don't get the cart in front of the horse, and we are here to help you navigate everything once you get your final diagnosis.

Cancer Sucks Shit Happens Nothing is ever 100% bad, there is a reason and silver lining in everything. Sometimes I need a good light and my glasses to find it though. You can't fix stupid.

Thanks! My dr wasn't sure how they would proceed due to pregnancy and depends on oncologist I guess. I downloaded the list of questions to ask when seeing him next week. Thanks again

Sorry to hear about you and don’t stress youself much it will have a –ve effect on the baby.

EJ - (3/27/2017 - 1:29am)

Hi! I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear that you are dealing with melanoma while pregnant. I too was diagnosed with melanoma (stage III C) while I was 8 weeks pregnant. My little guy was a fighter who made it through multiple surgeries and I was able to deliver full term. 16 months later he is keeping us on our toes but is happy and healthy. Honestly, knowing that I was fighting to make sure he was healthy kept me going! If I could offer any advice, I'd say : 1) connect with a high risk OB now to make sure you have an expert taking care of you and your baby and 2) Get to a major university medical center if you can. I met first with a general oncologist who didnt know much about melanoma and pretty much just scared us. I was fortunate to be in Chicago area and both Northwestern and University of Chicago have top immunotherapy programs. They gave much more hope to the situation and they have literally seen it all,including pregnant women with melanoma. pretty much everyone you deal with medically will be SUPER nice to you. Let them- you are pregnant and deserve it :) Lastly, breathe-you are strong and you can do this. Look forward to that amazing baby on the wayand you will get through this. :)

kimmyl - (3/29/2017 - 2:34pm)

I'm so sorry to hear that happened to you! The very same thing (sort of) happened to me too earlier this year. I was diagnosed with umbilical melanoma in my first couple weeks of my second trimester. The doctor's did a wide incision on my belly button and removed that area and also took out a couple of lymph nodes on my right and left groin. To find which lymph nodes my belly button drained too, they injected a little bit of radioactive dye (not too strong because of the baby). I was so scared because I didn't want the baby to be hurt by the radiactive dye and the anesthesia, but the doctor's assured me that the radioactive dye wasn't strong enough to hurt the baby and that they anesthesia was the safest. So far they did take the cancer out of my belly and my lymph nodes came back as not infected. I'm now on my third trimester with so much more energy and the baby is still healthy. I will send you a private message if you have any questions or concerns! I know how it feels so if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know! :)

Anonymous - (9/30/2017 - 4:18pm)

Hi, I am also in the same position right now.  I was diganosed at 17 weeks with at least 1.4mm clarks level IV and I am exploring treatment options.  I have been to two different melanoma centers to meet with specialists and get their recommendations.  The current plan is to proceed with a sentinel node biopsy (groin) and a WLE under general anesthesia.  They also want me to get a MRI.  Did any of you do this under local anesthesia instead?  I am meeting with a high risk OBGYN next week to review the case.  What type of follow-up did you have after pregnancy?  This is an incredibly stressful situation.