My experience of mole-mapping
You may not know that melanoma is one of the most common cancers in Ireland. Melanoma is cancer of the skin cells that produce melanin (the colour of your skin). These cell changes can occur in moles; so, it is vitally important that you document any moles that are present on your body so as you can monitor changes.
Having only recently become aware of the specifics of melanoma myself, I decided to attend my GP* to get a general check-over of my moles. Thankfully I didn’t have any concerns, I just wanted to be on the safe side.
‘Mole Mapping’ is a very quick and simple process; the practitioner simply views each and every mole on the body using a hand-held dermatascope, looking for any irregularities or lesions that fall under the following categories:
In addition to the general check, my GP measured a few of the larger moles so as to have the dimensions on record. She also advised me to take wide-frame and close-up photographs of my moles, and to compare the images against my skin every 6-12 months. Concluding the exam, she was satisfied that the majority of my moles were normal but she decided to refer me to a dermatologist to double-check one of them (it didn’t appear suspicious, it’s just that it didn’t match the form of my other moles).
I got an appointment with the specialist a week later, and he conducted the full mole-mapping process again. Happily he didn’t have any concerns and I was discharged with a clean bill of health and strict instructions to wear factor 50 sunscreen on my face and any other exposed areas. This was a surprise to me as I had always thought that SPF 15 in Winter and 30 in Summer was adequate in Ireland. I have since started using La Roche Posay Anthelios ultra-light fluid, which is a beautifully light and easy-to-wear formulation that sits comfortably on bare skin or under make-up.
I was very happy with how the process went. From now on I will continue to monitor my skin regularly myself and attend my GP for annual mole-mapping.
Perhaps this post has inspired you to check your own skin. If you would like to learn more about melanoma, visit the Irish Cancer Society website. Also, YouTuber, Lily Pebbles, has done a good video on her own mole mapping experience – click here to view.
*My GP has a special interest in dermatology and so was the ideal person to visit. If your GP does not have this qualification, he/she will be able to refer you accordingly.