A mole is a certain type of growth on the skin which often appears to be tiny, murky brown spots. Moles on the skin are common and usually a result of clusters of pigmented cells. An average person usually has around 10 to 40 moles which might either fade away after some time or have a gradual color change.
While moles are common on a person’s skin, some may not be healthy. This is because some people are at risk for skin conditions like cancer. For that reason, it is important to have your skin examined at least once during your yearly physical exam with your doctor. Once, for instance, skin cancer is detected early during your physical, it is removed and cured. At this point, mole mapping comes into play.
Read on to find out more about what the procedure entails.
What is Mole Mapping?
This is a method applied when screening to identify skin cancer early enough. Also referred to as Automated Total Body Mapping (ATBM), mole mapping entails a specific computer that takes pictures of your whole body and then combines them to form a complete image of the body. This image is usually put side by side with the next one that will be taken during your progressive visit. The computer’s artificial intelligence compares the images and highlights similar lesions, new ones and those that are changing. From there, you can progressively monitor them yearly for alterations.
Various factors will determine the number of times you’ll be required to follow up. Oftentimes, the visits will vary depending on your risk factors. Most follow-ups are usually done after a year and maybe sooner depending on your health history.
What is the procedure for Mole Mapping?
Once you visit the hospital, you will be taken to a skin-only examination and body mapping room. Here, you are required to undress wholly. However, the advancing technology keeps making the process less embarrassing, easier, and dependable.
During the mole mapping process, a camera on a rail moves backward and forwards to scan and capture the whole body. From time to time, your nurse or doctor will specifically guide your movements and positions to ensure the computer captures perfect images.
Importance of Mole Mapping
The procedure is important as it helps keep a record of every characteristic of the moles on your body. This is because it is usually difficult for both patients and doctors to remember the exact size and appearance of a mole after twelve months.
Another important factor to note about it is that it aids detect cancer of the skin as it appears. This ensures it is removed and treated. As a result, you will not need any biopsies. If you are at risk of getting skin cancer, make sure you talk with your doctor. Usually, the doctor will first suggest mole mapping before any other procedure.
People at high risk of getting skin cancer include those who have;
- Many moles on the skin
- Skin cancer history in the family
- Congenital nevi (birth moles that eventually turn into cancer)
- Dysplastic nevi or atypical moles
Mole mapping is a powerful tool that helps in the fight against skin cancer. Most skin cancer cases develop with age. That is why it is essential to undergo this procedure annually. However, it is worth noting that this shouldn’t substitute your clinical examination with your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or family doctor.
As mentioned, moles on the human body are common. However, for peace of mind, you may want to know the general skin condition. In that case, mole mapping is a great way to detect any irregularities. It is also a less expensive procedure conducted once every year.