What Is Mole Mapping?
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Australia and the hot climate and lengthy summers are a large contributing factor. Australians love the outdoors and those that don’t look after their skin in the sun are left in a vulnerable position if they are exposed to too much sunlight and strong UV rays.
Mole mapping is a medical procedure completed by a skin specialist where they carefully examine and take photography’s of your body to check the location and size of any moles you might have.
Also known as Automated Total Body Mapping (ATBM), it uses advanced technologies to screen your moles and keep track of any changes such as size, colour and form. This is the most common method to detect skin cancer as early as possible. Mole mapping is a quick and non-invasive procedure that will most likely be performed at a special skin cancer clinic. Taking around 45 minutes, the doctor will check your skin thoroughly all over and note down where your moles are located, the size, shape and if any are of concern.
Who needs to get it?
If you have a large number of moles or have a family history of skin cancer, it is recommended that you chat with your doctor about a possible referral to get mole mapping. The general rule of thumb is if you only have a few moles that you can monitor yourself, you can usually avoid the need to go to get a full mole map. However, if you have quite a lot of moles or don’t have someone at home that can regular check them for you, it is suggested that you get mole mapping every year or so. Getting your moles checked regularly is an excellent way to keep a record of any changes on your skin or any new moles that may appear.
What should I expect?
If it’s your first time getting a mole mapping done, you might be hesitant and have some questions. Talk with your doctor about what to expect and if there is anything you need to do to prepare for your appointment. Below is a brief outline of what to expect on the day of your mole mapping.
You will be seen by an expert Melanographer who is a registered nurse specially trained to complete mole maps and have extensive experience detecting and preventing skin cancers. They will explain the full process to you beforehand and answer any questions you may have.
Your skin will be checked from head to toe including your scalp and the palms of your hands so you will have to get down to your underwear to ensure all areas can be monitored closely. The Melanographer will then take a series of photos of your entire body using special digital and thermal camera equipment and then store them on an advanced mole mapping computer software.
Around 25-30 photos will be taken in a total of different sections of your body to ensure that all areas are covered.
After the photos have been taken, your Melanographer will check over the pictures and look out for anything suspicious or unusual. There is a possibility that if they find anything of concern, then they will consult with a dermatologist before giving the results to your doctor.
The process will remain the same every time you get a mole map as they will be able to compare the new map with the old one and check for any changes on existing moles and also monitor any new moles that may have appeared.