Mole mapping is the process of taking a series of photographs to document the entire body surface, recording the location of moles and other skin lesions. The photos act as a reference for later comparison, to allow detection of new or changing skin lesions.
Series of 28 to 30 photographs
Wear plain underwear, no make-up
People with many (hundreds) of moles, or those with very high melanoma risk should have total body photography repeated yearly.
With mole mapping we carefully examine and photograph your body to record the location and size of your moles. In future visits, the process is repeated, allowing us to precisely track changes. Our industry-leading system provides access to your images, allowing you to monitor any changes.
Mole mapping is suggested for people who would like assistance in detecting new or changing spots — which might potentially be skin cancers — on all parts of their body. This includes people:
Some people like to have a baseline record of their skin on a given date, for future comparison when new or changing spots are suspected.
People with many moles should have mole mapping repeated periodically as a way of checking for new or changing spots they might not have otherwise noticed.
Mole mapping is not the same as a full body skin examination, where a doctor examines and diagnoses your spots but does not necessarily take comprehensive photographs.
You can have mole mapping performed at Spot Check Clinic:
For people with relatively few moles, or with severely sun-damaged skin, mole mapping may not be the most effective way of checking your skin for changes. Your Spot Check doctor can advise how suitable mole mapping is for your skin type.
At Spot Check, your mole mapping photographs are examined by a doctor while you are in the clinic. We use DermEngine mole mapping software to analyse differences between sequential photos of body regions, increasing the detection rate of new and changing spots.
The mole mapping process involves taking a series of 28-30 photographs of your body. The first time takes about 20 minutes. With follow-up visits, 20 minutes is spent on retaking photo and then approximately 20 minutes comparing both sets of photographs for changes.
You can have mole mapping as part of a full body skin cancer check-up, or we can perform it as a standalone service, for example if your dermatologist has recommended it.
Photographs are taken in these 28 regions.
Most early melanomas usually tend to spread outwards on the surface of the skin before they grow deeper and spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma diagnosed in this early stage (less than 1mm thick at the time of removal) has a survival rate of close to 100 percent.
If you have many moles, it can be hard to keep track of which ones are new or changing — and this is a problem because identifying a changing mole could lead to an early diagnosis of treatable melanoma. Mole mapping can help identify changes in your spots, and can work as an extra way of pinpointing which of your spots or moles might need closer examination or removal.
Research studies have shown that mole mapping is associated with early melanoma detection in people at high risk of melanoma. The Cancer Council Australia recommends that mole mapping be considered as a method of recording a baseline and checking for changes in such people (Kelly 2017).
Mole mapping is most useful in:
If your skin has few moles, you might be able to identify suspicious changes without undergoing mole mapping.
If your skin has so many freckles, seborrhoeic keratoses or other coloured spots that it's hard to tell them apart, mole mapping might not be so useful for you. It works best if the moles stand out against the background of your skin.
If you are considering mole mapping, it's often best to discuss the benefits with a doctor to decide how useful it will be for you.
Mole mapping works best if your skin is clear and the moles are easy to see from a distance. If you are very hairy, you may wish to consider shaving or waxing before your appointment.
The digital mole analytics system detects spots, which includes spots on underwear. We recommend you wear plain, single-colour, non-patterned underwear to increase the accuracy of analysis.
If you are intending to have a general skin check, please refer to the tips on our How to prepare for a full body skin cancer check page.