Mole mapping or medical photography refers to taking high-resolution photographs to document the pigmented lesions on your skin. If you have numerous moles, atypical moles, a personal and/or a family history of melanoma, you might greatly benefit from mole mapping. These photos are used as a reference for you and your dermatologist to follow your moles over time for changes and potentially the development of skin cancer.
Mole Mapping Procedure
When your skin is evaluated for signs of cancer, your dermatologist screens your moles for atypical features. While certain atypical features of your moles, such as asymmetry, irregular borders, multiple colors and large size, can be identified, it is often more difficult to determine how your moles are changing. Medical photographs therefore allow your dermatologists to follow pigmented lesions and suspicious moles over time.
Both overview and close-up photos are taken during the mole mapping procedure. Overview photos are taken in a variety of poses and of specific body areas (i.e. head, neck, chest, back, abdomen, upper and lower extremities, hands and feet) in order to make it easier to see new lesions. Close-up photos are used to show the shape, color and size of specific moles. A diagram, or map can be prepared using numbered photos with corresponding locations on the body to track individual lesions during self-skin examinations and follow up appointments with you dermatologist. With medical photography, even the earliest changes in your moles can be detected and ultimately treated more quickly.
High-risk patients are often anxious about their moles, and continually worried about getting skin cancer. Mole mapping can help alleviate these feelings. Performing a self-skin exam without a baseline is exceedingly difficult, requiring patients to work from memory to determine the exact appearance of their moles. Medical photography is much more reliable. Patients can therefore be reassured that their moles are not changing and do not require skin biopsies or a procedure.
Medical photography can be a life saver! Studies have proven that early detection and catching melanoma early is one of the best approaches in the treatment of skin cancer. Melanoma is easily treatable when caught early, but can be dangerous in its advanced stages.