Molemap vs Skincheck for Melanoma
Knowing whether to book a molemap or skincheck appointment depends on your skin type and your personal skin cancer history. If you have a large number of moles, a previous melanoma or a family member with melanoma, then molemap would be advised over a skincheck. A molemap enables the doctor to assess which moles are changing and if there are any new moles as most melanomas are new. A skincheck would be suitable if there are few moles, no previous melanoma or minimal sun damage.
Early detection of melanoma is vital for a patient’s survival and a molemap detects melanoma at it’s earliest stage.
Whilst the most common skin cancers in Australia are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the skin cancer responsible for the most deaths is melanoma. Melanoma is usually detected as a pigmented lesion that shows some asymmetry in pigment and structures and also exhibits change when monitored over a short term 3 months. A molemap, including total body photography, is the best surveillance program to detect melanoma.
When booking in at the dermatologist or skin cancer clinic for your annual skin examination, you may ask yourself “should I book in for a skin check or a molemap?” There are several deciding factors to consider according to Dr Sally Shaw, skin cancer expert at Peninsula Skin Cancer Centre.
“If you have a large number of moles, had a previous melanoma or someone in your immediate family has had melanoma, then you should consider having a molemap” said Dr Shaw. “Also someone who has very sun-damaged skin, maybe a previous non-melanoma skin cancer, such as a basal cell carcinoma or a squamous cell carcinoma, who would be assessed as high risk for melanoma should consider a molemap over a skin check”.
“A molemap, including total body photography, involves taking high resolution photos of each area of the body along with high magnified images of individual irregular looking moles, therefore we are able to detect any moles that are new or changing, both strong clues for melanoma, at the earliest stage” she said.
“Unfortunately because a molemap usually takes longer than a skin check appointment and needs specialised equipment, there is a significant price difference between a skin check and molemap. However, skin checks should always involve an experienced dermoscopist with a handheld dermatoscope checking every lesion on the skin thoroughly. The doctor can still assess every lesion for skin cancer but will not be able to determine if the lesion has changed since the last examination.”
Click here for more information on what happens in a molemap.
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