If you have high skin cancer risk factors, or those who have over 50 moles, or too many moles to easily track yourself, mole mapping is a useful tool. Even better, the procedure is non-invasive and completely painless.
How Does Mole Mapping Work?
A dermatologist will take pictures and images of his or her patients that encompass the outer layer of skin. Once completed the records are archived. They’re then used later to check against future images and monitor any newly-developed moles; along with any changes to pre-existing ones.
This photograph depicts a patient undergoing mole mapping with her dermatologist:
It’s Not a Catchall
Research into mole mapping has revealed that it does increase the chances that dermatologists will discover early melanomas. (In one study, the odds increased by 17%).*
However, mole mapping should be used to augment, not replace, a person’s skin health care behaviors; as it has its limits. For instance, melanoma can develop on the scalp, which for most people is covered with hair that the cameras can’t see through. It can still miss cancerous moles, and there is always the possibility that a melanoma will develop and spread quickly during the time-gap between office visits.
For those reasons, it’s also important to perform monthly skin self-examinations, so any oddities can be brought swiftly to the attention of a dermatologist.
Working in tandem, skin self-exams and mole mapping will provide an even greater chance of catching and stopping a melanoma before it’s too late.
How do I Locate Dermatologists Who Provide Mole Mapping?
If you or someone you know is interested in mole mapping and would like to find local offices that perform it, start by running an internet search for “mole mapping services, ZZ”. When you do, simply replace the “ZZ” with your state’s postal abbreviation. (For example, Wyoming = WY, Minnesota = MN, etc.)
* Additional information sources: News-medical.net/health/Mole-Mapping.aspx (Catherine Shaffer, M.Sc.)