This is a rare occurrence but is in the literature as one of the only tumours to pass across the placenta.
Dr Ian Katz
Melanoma Passes From Mother To Unborn
Malignant Melanoma is known to be highly aggressive, spreading rapidly to other parts of the body if left untreated. It’s extremely rare, however, for it to be able to pass to an unborn fetus. This is what appears to have happened in the case of Briana Cox, who had malignant skin melanoma removed in 2006.
Doctors were sure that the cancer had been stopped in time, and Briana was given the all clear, going on to have a son David, who is now three, and a daughter Addison, in June 2011. Sadly, just two months after the birth, Briana collapsed while jogging, and was found to have advanced cancer in many parts of her body, including her brain.
In September 2011, four dark patches appeared on her baby Addison’s forehead and visits to the doctor led to a diagnosis of stage four melanoma. Her mother, Briana, died in February at the age of 33, from advanced metastasized cancer, but was determined to tell the painful story of how the cancer had spread to her unborn baby.
Doctors have been flummoxed as to how the metastasized cancer was able to pass across the placenta to the developing fetus. Dr. Pooja Hingorani, a pediatric oncologist who is now treating Addison at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, confirmed that the number of documented cases of something like this occurring is miniscule.
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