At the London Dermatology Centre we offer professional medical photography for mole surveillance. Mole mapping is a screening service for those at risk of or concerned about skin cancer. Our screening service allows for early detection of suspicious moles that require additional examination. Through a series of high quality photographs a baseline document of all your moles is created to allow future comparison should you or your Dermatologist suspect that a mole may be new or changing.
Mole mapping is a screening service to enable early detection of any mole that is changing or is new. Mole mapping is a relatively new concept that involves taking top-to-toe photos of the body. The system uses a specialised magnified camera lens which enables the practitioner to zoom into any suspicious mole to check for abnormalities in appearance. We recommend anyone with moles has a yearly check up to assess mole changes and new moles. This allows our Dermatologists to detect malignant melanoma at the earliest possible stage when it is most amenable to treatment and curable with minor surgery. For anyone who is at risk of or is concerned about skin cancer, our mole mapping service is a convenient way for you and your Dermatologist to be able to monitor your moles. We recommend that anyone with moles has a yearly check up to assess mole changes and any new moles. Those at higher risk are recommended to have a mole check more regularly.
A mole is a small, dark, round lesion that is commonly found on the skin. Moles are known medically as melanocytic naevi which refers to the type of cells found in moles, the melanocytes. These cells produce a dark brown/black pigment (melanin) that is responsible for the dark colour of moles as well as hair and the colour of the iris in the eye. Most moles are harmless and do not cause any problems. Some moles are present from birth and others will develop during childhood and adult life. Moles can be found anywhere on the body.
On average the mole mapping service takes between 30 minutes to an hour to complete. By the end of your appointment a comprehensive ‘map’ of your moles will be created and saved in our system ready for future reference.
On the day of your appointment the Dermatologist will run through the procedure with you and ask if you have any questions or concerns about any particular moles. You should inform the Dermatologist if there has been any recent change in colour, size, texture and shape of your moles. Any moles which require further examination will be checked by the Dermatologist with a dermatoscope (an illuminated hand-held lens with magnification).
Our mole mapping system here at the London Dermatology Centre combines total body mapping, dermoscopy and consistent before and after photography to enable early detection of melanoma. The Dermatologist will slide the camera up and down the machine in order to create a full body profile of all the moles on your skin. The FotoFinder Medicam HD technology allows highly magnified dermoscopy images of all your moles to be taken. This allows for both immediate analysis of individual moles to produce a risk score as well as the early detection of changes in any of your previous moles.
Your Dermatologist will then give you advice on whether you need any moles looked at further or the time frame in which you should come back for another mole map. Of course if you should notice any changes or would like to come back sooner than advised just book an appointment to see your Dermatologist.
The mole mapping service is completely non-invasive and you can return to work or your daily activities immediately after the appointment.
Any mole that the Dermatologist identifies to be abnormal will be examined further. The Dermatologist will ask you if you have noticed any changes in the mole or if the mole is new. Then a dermatoscope will be used to look closer at the mole to identify any irregularities. If the mole is suspected to be malignant the Dermatologist will advise you to allow them to remove it for histological analysis. In most cases, we can do this all on the same day. A pathological examination will then be carried out to determine whether the mole is benign (harmless) or indeed malignant (cancerous) and needs treatment.
Melanoma is the name given to a cancerous mole. It is considered to be the most serious type of skin cancer. Often, the first sign of a melanoma developing is the appearance of a new mole or a change in a previous mole’s shape, colour or size. The mole may also become itchy or bleed. It is important that any possible melanoma is picked up quickly as it can metastasise (spread) from the skin to other parts of the body causing cancer elsewhere.
Around 13,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year making it the 5th most common cancer in the UK. Unlike most other cancers, melanoma mainly affects those under 50 years of age. Melanoma kills more than 2000 people each year in the UK.
One of the main risk factors for developing melanoma is a family history of melanoma. You are also at increased risk of developing it if you have fair skin that burns easily, freckles, red hair or if you have a large number of moles. Those who have already had a melanoma in the past or have a weakened immune system are also at increased risk.
The best way to reduce your risk of melanoma is by protecting your skin from the sun and not letting your skin burn. Always apply a sunscreen with a high protection factor of SPF 30 or more. You should apply sunscreen between 15 to 30 minutes prior to going out in the sun and don’t forget to reapply every 2 to 3 hours and after swimming. Try to wear protective clothing such as a hat to protect your face, ears and neck as well as a pair of sunglasses with UV protection.
Another way to reduce your risk of melanoma is to check your moles regularly. If you suspect any changes to an existing mole or are concerned about a new mole you should get it looked at by a Dermatologist. The mole mapping service is a convenient way of keeping an eye on your moles as well as having them looked at by an experienced Dermatologist who will be able to tell you if any need further investigation.
For more information regarding the mole mapping service please contact us on 020 7467 3720.
Written By: Dr Sunil Chopra and Rebecca Perris
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