Do hormones influence melanoma? Facts and controversies

Clin Dermatol. May-Jun 2010;28(3):287-92. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.04.003.


The issue of whether hormones influence malignant melanoma (MM) has been controversial for many years. Although early case reports demonstrated a negative effect of hormones, recent evidence has not supported a potential role for hormones in MM. We address whether exogenous and endogenous hormones influence a woman's risk for MM or affect her prognosis if diagnosed with MM. Multiple epidemiologic studies show the use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy does not appear to increase a woman's risk for MM. Pregnancy does not appear to influence a woman's risk of MM, nor does pregnancy appear to affect prognosis in the woman diagnosed with MM. When counseling the woman who is diagnosed with MM during pregnancy or during the childbearing years, future use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy is not contraindicated; counseling concerning future pregnancies should be done on a case-by-case basis, with emphasis placed on established prognostic factors for MM.

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Directive Counseling
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / chemically induced
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Hormones