Are you concerned about the growing number of moles on your skin or the change in colour of one of the pigmentation spots? Have you ever found yourself asking “what if my mole is cancerous”?
If you have difficulty keeping track of your moles or are concerned about skin cancer, mole mapping at The Clifford Clinic may be the solution to quell your worries. Under the FotoFinder ATBM master mole mapping system, our clinic now maintains a database that helps to monitor and trace the moles/pigmentation on your skin.
The Clifford Clinic uses FotoFinder for mole mapping. FotoFinder is a surveillance system that employs the use of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technology to record and track the location and colour of moles/pigmentation on your skin.
Detailed photographs of your skin are taken and methodically analysed to determine the size, location, and colour of each individual mole. Images taken from each subsequent mole mapping session are then compared and analysed against past images to form a comprehensive map that details the location of each mole, record any changes in position/colour of the moles, as well as track the formation of new moles.
Patients will have access to their photographs and records via our state-of-the-art system, allowing you to easily monitor for any changes in your skin pigmentation. The goal of mole mapping is not the early detection of skin cancer. But the earliest detection!
Is mole mapping suitable for you?
Mole mapping is suitable for anyone looking to establish a baseline record of their skin to monitor for changing pigmentation/moles or detect the formation of new pigmentation.
However, we particularly recommend mole mapping for individuals who have a higher risk of developing melanoma (individuals with fairer skin carry a greater risk of melanoma) or individuals with a family history of developing skin cancers.
Periodic and frequent mole mapping is also recommended for individuals with numerous moles as mole mapping provides a reliable way for such individuals to check for new spots/moles that may have otherwise gone undetected.
Is there a difference between mole mapping and conventional skin cancer examinations?
Mole mapping differs from a traditional full body skin examination as the doctor not only examines your skin and pigmentation, but detailed photographs are also taken of your skin during each mole mapping session. The purpose of these photographs is to build up a comprehensive and detailed map of your skin that surveys for minute changes in your skin pigmentation or mole count.
Type of mole mapping available at The Clifford Clinic include:
- Mapping in conjunction with a medical examination by our doctors. Examination of your entire skin or a single spot of concern is available.
- Mapping as an independent procedure without the skin examination. (For patients who already had their skin examined by another doctor that may not have provided mole mapping services)
For patients with relatively few moles/pigmentations or patients with severe sun-damage on their skin may find mole mapping not as effective in detecting pigmentation changes in their skin. For such cases, our doctor will examine your case thoroughly and advise you on how suitable mole mapping is for you.
Mole Mapping at The Clifford Clinic
The Clifford Clinic employs the use of sophisticated cutting edge AI technology for the purpose of mole mapping in combination with the expert examination of all your skin and pigmentation by our doctors. Differences between each sequential photo of the monitored region are meticulously examined and analyses to ensure a high detection rate for any changes in pigmentation colour, shape or size, and to ensure that all new pigmentations/moles are identified and recorded.
How long is the mole mapping procedure?
For the first mole mapping session, you can expect a series of 28 photographs of your body/skin to be taken. The first session is typically 20 minutes long. During your follow-up appointments, each subsequent mole mapping session is expected to span around 40 minutes in total. 20 minutes will be spent retaking photographs of your skin, and 20 minutes will be spent comparing the new photographs to past photographs to identify changes in your skin.
What can I expect during the mole mapping procedure?
Mole mapping can be done in conjunction with a full body skin cancer medical examination by our doctors, or it can be done as an independent procedure without the skin examination for patients who already had a full body skin examination done by another doctor or their dermatologist.
Our doctor will ask you to undress down to your underwear and a dressing gown while be provided for you to wear. The nurse will then take a series of roughly 28 detailed photographs of your body starting at your head and moving down methodically to the other sections of your body.
Photographs of the above 28 highlighted regions will be taken.
Please note that during the procedure:
- The dressing gown provided will need to be removed for some of the above regions to be photographed. You may leave your underwear on during the photography of these regions, but if you have spots/moles on your back, breast, or buttocks, you may briefly remove your bra/underwear for the photographs to be taken.
- For some patients, they may only have one or two regions of the body that have numerous moles/spots that they are unable to monitor on their own. In this case, patients may opt to just have photographs of the problematic regions taken.
The mole mapping system used by The Clifford Clinic is able to map the exact location on the skin that the mole is located on. Moles identified from the physical photograph taken of the patient’s body are converted into digital data points that are mapped on a computer simulation of the patient’s body by our mole mapping AI.
How our AI works:
- During subsequent mole mapping visits after the first session, all regions originally photographed will be re-photographed for cross examination.
- Our doctor will compare the current set of photographs with past sets of photographs to check for any changes. The AI assists the doctor via our digital analytics system that automatically identifies any discrepancies between the old photographs and the new photographs.
- This process happens in real time while you are still present in the clinic, thus you can expect to know the results of your mole mapping as soon as possible.
Once a mole/spot that is suspected to have changed or newly formed is identified, the mole/spot is location and a high resolution dermoscopic image is taken for future reference and comparison.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer and it stems from the melanocytes (pigment cells) in the skin. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body but it usually occurs in areas that are exposed to the sun.
How does mole mapping detect melanoma?
Signs of melanoma include:
- a sudden change in shape size, or colour of an existing mole
- development of new spots/pigmentation on the skin
- formation of abnormal/unusual looking growths on the skin
Melanoma usually first manifests as pigmentation that spreads along the surface of the skin before spreading deeper into the skin tissue and eventually spreading to other parts of the body. While melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer, thankfully melanoma detected in its early stage (pigmentation is less than 1mm thick at the time of removal) has a high survival rate of close to a 100 percent.
If you have numerous moles on your body it may be hard for you to keep track of each individual mole, and it may be even harder for you to recognise when a new mole has formed. This is potentially life threatening as the early diagnosis of treatable melanoma depends on your ability to track your moles/spots.
Mole mapping can help you keep track of all your moles/spots and help you pinpoint which moles need closer examination or removal.
Mole mapping is recommended for:
- Patients with a higher risk of developing melanoma
- Patients with numerous (more than 100) moles
- Patients with moles that are distinct from the underlying skin (moles that do not have round edges, moles that are a striking colour, or moles that are raised bumps on the skin)
Mole mapping may not be useful if you:
- Have few moles on your skin. Patients with few moles should not require the assistance of mole mapping to identify changes in their moles
- Have freckles, seborrhoeic keratoses or other coloured spots on your skin. Mole mapping works best on patients with clear and distinct moles/spots that are easily identifiable against their skin’s background.
If you are considering mole mapping, please reach out to your doctor to discuss the benefits of mole mapping and if it is suitable for you.
As mole mapping works best when the moles are visible from a distance on clear skin, if you have body hair, you may consider waxing or shaving you hair off before the session.
As the digital mole analytics system and AI is trained to detect spots, please avoid underwear with a spotted pattern. On the day of the session, please wear plain, single-colour, non-patterned underwear to increase the accuracy of the mapping and analysis.