Medically known as nevi, you likely call these brown and black spots moles. Small clusters of skin pigment, most moles are harmless, and people usually have between 10 and 40 scattered over their body. In rare cases, moles can become cancerous, and they can also indicate raised risk for some types of skin cancer.
As an early warning system for malignant melanoma, mole mapping technology emerged, facilitating the identification of new or changing moles, which can suggest precancerous conditions. Changes noted through mole mapping can help focus diagnostic efforts to catch skin cancer in its earliest stages.
The importance of early detection
Every year, more Americans receive skin cancer diagnoses than for all other cancers combined. While on the surface that sounds frightening, early diagnosis of melanoma has a 99% five-year survival rate, so it's one of the most treatable cancers. Improved screening means fewer skin cancer deaths.
The ABCDE guide
You can track your own moles at home, using personal digital imaging to record your skin condition and compare the appearance of moles and other spots over time. The ABCDE guide is a memory tool to help your efforts. Use these steps to base your observations, and follow up with medical care when these irregularities arise.
- Asymmetrical: when a spot deviates from round or oval and its halves don’t match
- Border: irregularities develop along the edge of a mole
- Color: changes in color, unevenness, or additional colors are all suspicious
- Diameter: moles that grow larger than 6 mm (about one-fourth of an inch)
- Evolving: any changes to a mole, particularly one that’s been stable for years, including color, height, shape, size, or conditions like bleeding or itchiness
While home care is important, it’s often difficult to examine moles in hard-to-reach locations. Automated mole mapping in conjunction with a clinical examination by Dr. Clement Banda at MD Vein & Skin Specialists provides you with an extremely accurate way to spot changes and detect melanomas early in their development.
The power of mole mapping
Weaknesses of the ABCDE rule and other diagnostic checklists is that it’s possible to miss nonstandard lesions, and false positive results may give a false sense of security. Mole mapping can improve the accuracy of diagnosis without resorting to needless biopsies. Melanomas are detectable when they’re thinner, helping you keep the odds associated with early detection on your side.
Are you a mole mapping candidate?
People with more than 50 moles over their bodies have a statistically greater risk of developing skin cancer, as do those with large or unusually featured moles. If you have fair skin and you’ve been severely sunburned, mole mapping can add a level of comfort. Mapping is also recommended for those with a history of skin cancer in their families.
Anytime you’re concerned about changes to moles on your body, scheduling an exam with Dr. Banda is a smart idea. You can book your consultation online using the convenient link at the top of the page, or you can call MD Vein & Skin Specialists directly at 443-267-2428. Skin cancer won’t wait, so neither should you. Contact the office today.