Mole mapping identifies all moles on a person's body and monitors, over time, the moles' size, color and overall appearance for early detection of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Because they tend to grow rapidly and carry a risk of serious complications, screening and early diagnosis of melanoma is important. Mole mapping is an excellent way to keep track of changes in moles.
Candidates for Mole Mapping
Mole mapping can be performed on anyone who wants or needs a comprehensive screening for melanoma and/or other skin conditions. It is especially recommended for those who have:
- Excessive growth of moles
- Had excessive exposure to ultraviolet lightA family history of melanoma
- Fair skin, freckling or light hair
- Had previous treatment for melanoma
- A history of severe sunburns
- Weakened immune systems
Clear identification of all moles on the body allows for their precise monitoring, enabling abnormalities to be detected as soon as possible.
The Mole Mapping Procedure
Before the mole mapping procedure, the medical provider takes a medical and family history, and educates the patient on the self-evaluation of melanomas. Then, based upon the patient's melanoma risk and personal preference, the medical provider performs the exam using one of various evaluation types. At Paz Dermatology, we document the locations of the moles and track them in sophisticated electronic medical record. Photos of the moles are taken at each visit and compared in follow-up visits.
After the mole mapping exam, the images are evaluated, and biopsies may be taken of suspicious moles. If a melanoma is found, the doctor will determine whether surgical excision or other treatment is necessary.
Mole mapping is usually repeated every 1 to 2 years to detect any new skin changes that may indicate melanoma or other skin conditions. For high-risk patients, mole mapping is repeated every 3-6 months. Mole mapping helps patients avoid, through early detection, the serious complications of malignant melanomas.