Is the surveillance programme for detecting skin cancers especially melanoma at an early stage. During this programme a patients entire moles are examined and photographs are taken which can be stored and compared to pictures to be taken on the patients follow up visit.
The simplest form of mole mapping involves whole body examination by the doctor, followed by marking on a cartoon drawing of a body where the worrisome moles are situated; and a dermoscopy picture of those moles taken using the doctor’s or the patient’s phone. The pictures will then be stored for comparison on follow up.
In most cases mole mapping involves taking pictures of each individual mole with a mole mapping machine with a special dermoscopic camera. The picture will then be stored into a computer data base to be analysed by the computer and or the dermatologist. Follow up pictures taken in the same way will be analysed for any changes.
Who should go for mole mapping?
Everybody over the age of 18 that has a mole can go for mole mapping. It is even more important for the following
- People with multiple moles
- People with odd looking moles (atypical moles)
- Fair skinned individuals with previous excessive sun exposure
- People with a previous history of melanomas
- People who have a 1st degree relative with a history of melanoma
How often should it be done?
- Most people will have it done once a year
- In newly diagnosed melanoma patients it’s every 3-6 months for 2 years, followed by yearly visits
- People that have lesions of concern not yet requiring excision will have the mole mapping every 3-6 months also
- Or as often as recommended by the dermatologist
It is important to note that mole mapping machines are in most cases accurate but should not be used as a substitute for a good clinical evaluation by a doctor/ a dermatologist.