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Skin Cancer, Skin Checks

Is mole mapping worth it?

How full body mole mapping can detect the signs of skin cancer earlier than most skin checks.

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 15/04/21
Full body mole mapping can detect the signs of skin cancer

Image: Mole mapping monitors changes in your skin over time to detect signs of skin cancer earlier than most skin checks.

Full body mole mapping may seem expensive, but there are many good reasons why it costs more than an ordinary skin check. Unlike most skin checks, mole mapping is a complete surveillance programme that includes both total body photography and digital dermoscopy to detect the signs of melanoma and other skin cancers early – essentially to ‘nip skin cancer in the bud’ before it can spread and become life-threatening.

Read on to find out why it costs more, the difference between mole mapping and a skin check, and how early detection of skin cancer can save lives.

What is mole mapping

Image: Mole mapping ‘maps out’ every mole on your body, providing a baseline record that can be used to track any changes that may be early signs of skin cancer.

Firstly, what is mole mapping?

As its name suggests, mole mapping means that every mole on your body is ‘mapped out’ using total body photography and specially developed mapping technology.

This provides a baseline record of the size, shape and position of your moles, so that at future appointments, a dermatologist can assess any subtle changes that may indicate the early signs of melanoma.

Why choose full body mole mapping?

Dermatologists agree that mole mapping can save both lives and money, as it helps them to detect deadly melanomas earlier, reducing the need for invasive surgery, expensive cancer treatments and palliative care.1

They also agree that mole mapping is particularly important for patients with a large number of moles (50 moles+). Without it, it can be difficult to tell if a mole has changed or if a new mole has developed that may be a melanoma. 2

Currently, mole mapping is not funded in Australia, despite the fact that we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world – with one Aussie diagnosed with the disease every 30 minutes, and approximately 1300 of us dying of it every year.3

A group of leading Australian dermatologists have been calling for urgent action for mole mapping to be covered by Medicare since 2017, saying it will save lives, but is beyond the reach of most people, including many who have a high risk of melanoma.

Here at MoleMap, we agree that mole mapping should be covered so that more Australians can access this essential service for less. In the meantime, we offer a range of interest-free payment plans for our services, including a MoleMap payment plan, Laybuy and online banking to help make full body mole mapping more accessible to Aussies.

Whats the difference between a skin check and mole mapping

Image: These melanomas weren’t visible to the naked eye, but were detected with full body mole-mapping, which monitors any changes to the skin or moles over time.

What’s the difference between a skin check and mole mapping?

To put it simply, a skin check is a ‘point in time’ check of your skin and moles. A doctor or nurse will check your skin all over for any signs of melanoma or other skin cancers. This usually takes anywhere between five and 15 minutes, depending on which skin cancer detection service you use.

While a skin check can be effective at detecting any obvious signs of skin cancer on your skin at that point in time, it doesn’t include ongoing monitoring of your skin and moles. That’s why it’s more suitable if you have a low skin cancer risk (check your risk here) – or have one or more moles you’re worried about.

On the other hand, full body mole mapping is much more comprehensive. It includes digital dermoscopy (using a high-tech device that looks deep inside a mole’s structure to detect any signs of skin cancer), plus full body photography which creates a baseline record of your entire skin and moles, as well as close-up images of any moles or spots of concern.

This baseline record is used at subsequent appointments to monitor any changes in your skin or moles - changes that may indicates the early signs of melanoma.

Full body mole mapping takes longer than a skin check – often up to 45 minutes – depending on the number of moles and whether any features of skin cancer are detected.

Why full body mole mapping costs more than a skin check

Why full body mole mapping costs more than a skin check?

One of the earliest signs of melanoma is a changing mole or spot. And, like all forms of cancer, the earlier melanoma is detected, the better the chances of treating it – and beating it.4

So it stands to reason that one of the best ways to detect skin cancer is by tracking early changes in the skin and moles. That’s what full body mole mapping is designed to do: monitor your skin over time to spot any changes early.

Mole mapping costs more than a simple skin check because it includes:

  1. A thorough, head-to-toe skin check for the early signs of skin cancer.
  2. Digital dermoscopy – to the untrained eye, melanoma can look much like any other spot. A dermoscope is a sophisticated device that looks below the surface of a mole to detect any early signs of skin cancer earlier than visual checks.
  3. Full body photography – these total body images provide a baseline record of the size, shape and position of every mole, so that even the smallest changes can be picked up at follow-up appointments.
  4. In the case of a Full Body MoleMap, it also includes free spot checks for 12 months, so you can come back and see us if you notice any changing or new moles between appointments.
Is full body mole mapping right for me

Is full body mole mapping right for me?

Full body mole mapping is suitable for everyone, but is recommended for anyone who has a moderate to high risk of melanoma. This includes anyone who has fair skin and/or a lot of moles (50 moles or more), has a personal or family history of melanoma, is over 50 years old, or who has spent a lot of time in the sun.

If that sounds like you or someone you know, we recommend booking a Full Body MoleMap every year, so that any early signs of skin cancer can be detected early – when they’re most treatable.

Do you know your skin cancer risk? Take our quick risk check – or learn about the 7 risk factors of melanoma.

Why come to Mole Map for full body mole mapping

Caption: MoleMap’s skin-mapping system combines total body photography with EarlyDetect mole mapping and monitoring to detect the early signs of skin cancer.

Why come to MoleMap for full body mole mapping?

At MoleMap, our team of leading Dermatologists and Melanographers have been detecting and diagnosing melanoma for over two decades. It’s all we do, and we do it thoroughly.

In fact, MoleMap’s founders were the first to pioneer specialised mole mapping technology over 20 years ago. Realising that many melanomas were being missed in routine skin checks, they developed the Full Body MoleMap, a proven surveillance system that harnesses the latest digital dermoscopic and photographic technology. 

MoleMap was also the first to create specialist Melanographers, skin cancer nurses with best-in-class training, and to ensure images of any moles of concern are securely sent to an expert Dermatologist for double-checking and diagnosis.

Basically that means that, not one, but two sets of expert eyes check every mole of concern: a trained Melanographer and one of MoleMap’s leading Dermatologists.

What’s more, because full body mole mapping can more accurately identify melanoma than a one-off skin check, there is less need to surgically remove benign (harmless) moles5 - which means less unnecessary scarring and fewer unneccessary health scares for patients.

Many competitors now use the term ‘mole mapping’: however, MoleMap was the original – and still leads the way with state-of-the-art skin cancer detection software and technology. This includes our new My MoleMap patient portal, and SpotChat, a free online consultation with a Melanographer – and other exciting developments coming soon!

Why not just have a skin check with my doctor

Image: It’s a good idea to have a GP skin check in between your regular mole mapping appointments – and to self-check your skin every 2-3 months as well.

Why not just have a skin check with my doctor?

It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to check your skin and moles in between your regular mole-mapping appointments – and to self-check your skin and moles every 2-3 months as well.

However, bear in mind that doctors are busy and tend to give your skin a quick once-over within the confines of a 15-minute appointment, so it may not be as thorough as a skin check with a specialist skin cancer detection service.

And of course, a one-off skin check doesn’t include full body mole mapping, so you won’t have a baseline record of your skin and moles to check against at future appointments – which as this article shows, can make a life-changing difference.

References: 1,2. ABC News: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-01/skin-cancer-doctors-call-for-action-on-melanoma-photography/9212668 3. https://www.melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/melanoma-facts-and-statistics 4. https://www.melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/what-is-melanoma/ 5. MoleMap Internal Audit. Benign to malignant ratio from a sample of 700 recommended excisions from 2010-2013. Sensitivity from documentation of reported missed melanomas.

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