Why is mole mapping important?

It is important to know what your moles look like.

While moles are harmless, sometimes a deadly form of skin cancer – melanoma – develops in or near a mole. Melanoma can develop on normal skin or in an existing mole. Anyone can get this type of skin cancer.

Risk factors for melanomas are:

  • Light skin, hair and eyes
  • 50 or more small moles
  • Post blistering sunburns or indoor tanning
  • Had melanoma or other skin cancer
  • Blood relative who has had melanoma
  • Weak immune system
  • Age more than 50 years

Finding melanoma early is essential, as early treatment has a high cure rate. Melanoma has a cure rate of nearly 100% when found early, and properly treated.

It is very important to examine your skin regularly. There are two types of skin examination. A skin self-examination involves checking your skin for signs of change in colour texture or appearance of any mole. If you note a change, or have a concern, visit a dermatologist. The other type of skin exam is performed by the dermatologist. A change to the shape, colour or diameter (size) can be a sign of melanoma. The other changes to watch for include – a mole that becomes painful, or begins to itch or bleed.

Mole mapping is a screening procedure performed by a dermatologist, which makes use of digital technology to map moles from head to toe on the body. At Mediclinic Deira, we use the FotoFinder dermoscopy device, which is one of the most advanced mole mapping devices available worldwide. It is an effective screening tool for detecting early skin changes associated with melanoma.

The baseline images help to monitor the moles in future. The images obtained are magnified and saved, and any new changes in the moles may be cancerous and would be easily detected.

The best way to way to check your skin, is to perform a skin self exam. Moles can appear anywhere on your skin from scalp to toe. You can even get a mole under your nail. While doing a self exam, look for the following signs which you can remember as the “ABCDE’s.

A – Asymmetry – Is one half of the mole unlike the other half

B – Border – Does the mole have a poorly defined, irregular or scalloped border

C – Colour – Do you see more than one colour in a mole? Such as shades of tan brown, black, white, red or blue

D – Diameter – Do you have a mole that is bigger than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser). Melanomas are usually bigger than 6 mm, but they can be smaller.

E – Evolving – Do you have mile or other spot on your skin that looks different from the rest? Have you noticed a mole changing in size, shape or colour?

If your answer to any of these questions is a “YES”, then you should consult a dermatologist immediately.

Early detection of skin cancer offers the best chance of survival, as it can be excised before it starts spreading to the rest of the body.

Authored by Dr. Vimala Vinod

Specialist Dermatologist at Mediclinic Deira