Women and Melanoma – Safety of Fertility Treatment and Pregnancy
Women diagnosed with most cancers and concerned in accomplishing pregnancy require counseling for fertility preservation, fertility treatment and the safety of pregnancy after melanoma treatment. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults in the United States. In the US and worldwide, there is dramatic increase in the incidence of skin melanomas. Around 30,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, one third will be in their procreative years. Its the most common cancer in young adults 25 to 29 year old. Its more common in white women compared to African Americans and Hispanics. Approximately 10% of melanomas run in families or are genetically inherited. Treatment of melanoma requires surgery. In advanced melanoma, chemotherapy is added. Dacarbazine-DTIC is an alkylating agent used for treating melanomas. Immune therapy is also used for advanced melanomas- interferon α or IL-2.
In early stages, surgery is the only required treatment. In advanced stages if chemotherapy is used, ovarian reserve may be diminished and this may reduce woman’s ability to get pregnant. The use of immune therapy is not known to affect future fertility. The effects of newer targeted therapies and vaccines on fertility are also unknown.
Melanoma and fertility treatment. The estrogen receptors were found on melanoma cells. Some researchers detected no significant increase in the risk of melanoma after treatment with fertility drugs. The relationship between estrogen exposure and melanoma is controversial. Women seeking fertility preservation before exposure to chemotherapy or melanoma survivors desiring pregnancy after completing treatment should consult with a fertility preservation specialist about the risks and benefits of fertility treatment. The ovarian stimulation regimen can also be modified to minimize estrogen exposure. It may also be possible for women with inherited predisposition to melanoma to avoid transmission to future children through testing of embryos-PGD.
Melanoma and pregnancy. Ten studies including 5600 women found that pregnancy does not reduce survival in women diagnosed with melanoma. Women treated for melanoma who subsequently became pregnant did not were not adversely affected compared to women who did not get pregnant after treatment. For thin tumors-