Mole mapping is an advanced, high-resolution digital technology used to create a ‘map’ of the body from head to toe, which allows you to assess all moles, and to track any changes over time.
Mole mapping is the gold standard of imaging technology when monitoring the skin for suspicious growths, and Derma uses the FotoFinder ATBM (Automated Total Body Mapping) system.
As it is a highly-specialised technology, Derma is the only clinic within a 30 mile radius of Reading offering the FotoFinder ATBM.
What is the Benefit of Mole Mapping?
While many patients can track their own skin, it can be difficult, especially if they have a lot of moles, or have moles in hard-to-see areas, such as the back and shoulders. This can be exceptionally hard to do for patients with mobility issues.
According to NHS data, around 175,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year. Many of these can be avoided if changes in the skin are caught and removed early in their development. This is why people who have a history of skin cancers, or those who are at higher risk of developing them, need to check their skin for suspicious growths, which can often (but not always) occur in moles. By monitoring changes, it is more likely to be able to catch and treat any issue at an earlier stage, increasing the chance of cure. Early removal of lesions also reduces the risk of scarring.
Skin cancers can arise from freckles or other marks on the skin – even if they appear to be ‘harmless,’ and so self-checking may not be adequate in diagnosing a suspicious growth that appears similar to normal skin.
The images taken in mole mapping are much different than the average high-resolution photo, and provide highly accurate, extremely detailed photographs, which allow the dermatologist to zoom in up to 140x to see a magnified view of any mole, mark, or suspicious growth on the body.
Because the photos are taken under identical lighting conditions, and in identical positioning, mole mapping generates much more accurate results than comparing traditional photos, in which the lighting or the position of the patient’s body can be varied.
Dermatologists are highly skilled at scanning a body for suspicious moles, and can often pick up lesions early. However, they are unable to pick up subtle changes in a person’s skin over a period of time. This is where mole-mapping excels, picking up even the smallest changes in moles and bringing these to the dermatologist’s attention.
Additionally, since the body’s surface is vast, generating a mole map is much more efficient than having the dermatologist manually scan the whole body. With mole mapping, patients’ skin can be just as thoroughly assessed, and patients only need further examination in the event that a particular mark requires the dermatologist to more closely inspect the skin.
Derma will safely and confidentially store a digital mole map along with other personal information, and it can later be referenced and analysed against subsequent maps (usually taken yearly) allowing the dermatologist to see if anything has changed.
Who is Mole Mapping Suitable For?
Mole mapping is suitable for patients who either have a personal or family history of skin cancers, or who are at increased risk of developing skin cancers as a result of other factors.
Other factors could include:
If you have a single mole you are concerned about, you should see your GP or a dermatologist. However, if you have a lot of moles, and are concerned that you might miss changes in these over time, then mole mapping is the best tool available for monitoring your skin.
What is the Process of Mole Mapping at Derma?
Your appointment for mole mapping will begin with a consultation with a dermatology specialist nurse, who will also conduct the process of mole mapping.
You will need to remove your clothing, but unless the skin under your undergarments is relevant to the sites of your moles, you should be able to keep those on. You can have a family member attend the appointment with you, or there will be a chaperone available should you want one.
Our specialist dermatology nurse will ask you to stand in a specific position while an automatic lift moves a camera to settings determined by your height and body shape. The camera snaps four photos of each side of your body in quick sequence.
The photos are digitally stitched together, generating a comprehensive view of your whole body and showing detailed pictures of each mole. If there are any moles that you or the nurse are particularly concerned about these can be captured in even more detail using the video dermatoscope.
After your appointment a dermatologist will review the images and produce a report, which will usually be sent to you within two days.
This report will either:
This report can be sent to your GP either for a referral on the NHS or a private referral for treatment at Derma.
If the dermatologist is concerned about any mole and needs a more detailed image to make a diagnosis, this follow-up scan will be conducted free of charge.
The report will also recommend if and when you should come back for another mole mapping, which may be in three to six months, or conducted once a year. Subsequent mole mappings are even more useful as they highlight any new or changed moles, which is essential in the early detection of skin cancer.