Demystifing a Mole map appointment

This is the follow up to my previous article about discovering I had a cancerous mole and its prompt removal.  PLEASE take care this summer and slip, slop, slap!

“About 250 New Zealanders will die from melanoma each year and about one in fifteen white skinned New Zealanders are expected to develop melanoma in their lifetime.  Melanoma is the least common but the most serious form of skin cancer.  New Zealand has one of the highest melanoma death rates in the world.

“If melanoma is diagnosed and treated early the treatment is usually successful.”

NAEVUS Mole Mapping was recommended as a great place to go for a full mole map at a cost of $225.00.

The nurse spoke to me in length about what was going to happen and then it was time to start.

The worst part of the whole procedure was stripping down to bra and undies and in reality that wasn’t even painful!

She assessed my skin type and quickly discovered I had MANY moles covering my whole body – even under the sole of my foot!

“Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, not only in areas that get a lot of sun. The most common site in men is the back (around 40% of melanomas), and the most common site in women is the leg (around 40%).”

She carefully checked each mole and circled the ones requiring further investigation.

After the surface of my skin was wiped with a cleansing wipe she placed the camera lens against my skin.  The mole appeared HUGE on the computer screen giving great detail to shape, colour and depth.

“NAEVUS (pronounced ‘nee-vus’) is Latin and is the medical term for mole. It is a unique service for skin cancer detection using advanced computer technology and high definition digital photography screening (Digital Dermoscopy) that provides you with immediate results.

“Digital Dermoscopy is a new and exciting technology. It is a research based approach to early detection of melanoma. It involves the use of digital technology along with a dermatoscope to provide a vastly magnified view of structural changes within moles and other skin lesions at a stage long before that visible to the naked eye. This greatly increases the accuracy of the early diagnosis of melanoma and skin cancer.”

Each mole was numbered and mapped on the computer as to where it was on my body.  This ensures that each mole can be accurately compared at my next scan for any changes.

Many of my moles were of no concern but because of already having history of a cancerous mole it was recommended to get everything checked.

“It is strongly recommended for anyone in your situation where you have had a previous melanoma removed to have annual skin checks for life due to your increased risk of further melanoma.  Annual screening for first degree relatives eg teenage or adult children, siblings and parents is also advised.

“It was also recommended that you monitor your skin regularly for any new or changing moles as usually melanoma develops as a new lesion. It can be difficult to monitor for those who already have a lot of moles, therefore molemapping is considered the safest way to identify any changing moles or new moles at the earliest opportunity, due to the magnification of the moles with their camera.

“This enables us to pick up very early or subtle changes which cannot be seen with the naked eye, which is the objective for detecting melanoma early so that excision of the mole can be recommended.

“As all the photos are permanently stored on our computer this gives us the ability to compare moles over the long term timeframe for years to monitor for any early changes, as early detection of melanoma is essential for a positive outcome.”

“Once the images have been reviewed by the doctor a letter will be sent out with the results.”

My report arrived by mail within a few days and there were five moles that they wanted to check within three months.

A three month follow up is recommended for any moles that have irregular features but not significant enough to justify immediate excision at the initial mole map.   It is safest to review them for changes in a three month timeframe rather than leave them for annual review. Three months is considered a safe timeframe to detect any change if it is occurring in the mole.”

I received a follow up letter in three months and went back to have the five moles rechecked.  Because of the exact mapping done the first time it was easy to identify them and have them rephotographed.

Straightaway she couldn’t see any changes when she quickly compared them to what she had taken last time which was a relief.  The photos were again reviewed by the doctor for his final analysis.

Within a few days I got another letter stating that all five had not changed and I was all clear until my next yearly molemapping.

“NAEVUS promote adequate sun protection with the use of a broad spectrum sunscreen daily with SPF30 minimum to exposed parts of the body with reapplication of sunscreen after 4 hours (or whatever timeframe the sunscreen states cover for).”

 Ideally covering up is preferred.  Other sun protection measures such as wearing wide brimmed hats and sunglasses and avoiding exposure during the hottest hours of the day are also recommended.”

 I just want to say that the level of professionalism and information that I received was amazing.  I greatly dislike the unknown but was instantly put at ease with the manner in which the procedure was explained to me. Thank-you NAEVUS!

For further information you can go to their website

NOTE: Everything in this article in italics is from the information pack I was given or their website.  This article has been reviewed by NAEVUS and permission has been granted for publishing.

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