What is mole mapping?
Mole mapping is a process of documenting your entire skin and individual moles over time to help detect changes in moles as early as possible.
The best mole mapping procedure is a combination of both full body digital photography and dermoscopy. Dermoscopy is a non-invasive skin surface microscope that allows examination of skin structures not normally seen with the naked eye. Dermoscopy allows visualisation of the early subtle changes in skin cancer. The aim of Mole mapping is to detect skin cancer as early as possible.
What should you expect from the mole mapping procedure?
The mole mapping procedure is relatively simple and takes around 30 minutes. The procedure is completely painless and involves being photographed using a special camera and dermoscopic lens.
Your entire skin is photographed by an automated computer that creates a map of your entire body. Any unusual moles are monitored additionally with a dermatoscope. At the end of the procedure you will be provided with an encrypted USB stick of your photographs.
When you return for any further mole mapping in the future the computer will use artificial intelligence to detect any new or changing moles. The dermoscopic images can also look for any changes in any unusual moles.
What does a cancerous mole look like?
Sometimes melanomas can be obvious and stand out from all your moles. These types of melanoma fulfill the ‘ABCDE criteria’ with asymmetry, irregular borders, different colours, diameter >6mm and evolving size, colour or shape. The problem is that many melanomas can mimic normal moles and do not fulfill the ABCD criteria. Dermoscopy can be very helpful in picking up the more subtle melanomas.
When should you get a mole checked by your doctor?
It’s important to regularly check your skin for suspicious moles and report anything unusual to your doctor. Remember the ABCDE rule: Asymmetry (one half of the mole doesn’t match the other), Border irregularity, Colour that is not uniform and diameter greater than 6 mm or evolution of colour, shape and size over time.
Is mole mapping worth it?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide and rates in the UK continue to rise. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and can be difficult to detect. Melanomas most ofter arise on normal skin but they can also arise in existing moles.
Automated total body mapping and dermoscopy is worth it for two main reasons:
it allows for the earlier detection of skin cancer
it reduces unnecessary removal of moles