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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be lethal if diagnosed late. There are several factors that contribute to the development of melanoma — sun exposure, age, the presence of more than 50 moles, a family history of melanoma are some common factors.

We can use the acronym HARMM to predict a patient’s risk of developing melanoma: History of previous melanoma, Age 50 and above, Regular dermatologist absent, Mole changing and Male Gender. Patients with 4 or 5 of these risk factors were 4.4 times more likely than those with 0 or 1 factors to develop melanoma.

While the incidence of melanoma is increasing worldwide even in Asia, the melanoma-specific survival rates have remained relatively stable. In fact, early stage melanoma can be treated easily with surgery. If you are at risk of skin cancers, you should take precaution to detect it earlier rather than later. Skin Self-Examination and dermatologist-directed full skin examinations should be performed. Tools such as Mole Mapping can help in the surveillance of malignant melanoma or skin cancer.
If you are at high risk, you should also come in to a dermatologist for regular skin checks

Many new and recurrent melanomas can potentially be detected
Skin Self Examination

A simple but effective detection strategy involves educating you on self-skin examinations performed at regular intervals. Many new and recurrent melanomas can potentially be detected by you or your family.

You will look out for the ABCDEs of melanoma detection, encompassing Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Colour variation, Diameter (>6mm) and Evolution (change in appearance in addition to symptoms such as bleeding, itch, pain).

If you are at high risk, you should also come in to a dermatologist for regular skin checks, the frequency of which would be determined by your physician. Special care needs to be taken at often overlooked sites such as the fingerwebs, toewebs, scalp, behind the ears, natal cleft, back and back of the legs.

The dermatologist has several tools that aid in the detection of skin cancers. Individual lesions that are suspicious can be examined closely with the aid of a dermatoscope. We also may utilize our mole mapping machine in your care.
Mole Mapping is a painless procedure that usually takes less than 30 minutes, and should be done at regular intervals for high-risk individuals.
Mole mapping employs non-invasive imaging technology to monitor new or changing moles. This high-tech, digital 3D imaging system was designed specifically for dermatology and can capture the entire skin surface in macro quality resolution.

The fully integrated software allows our dermatologists to map and monitor pigmented lesions. The system also utilizes AI technology to pick up individual lesions that are suspicious. This technology, combined with the traditional full skin check, increases the sensitivity for detecting malignant lesions.

With this set of high resolution photographs obtained from mole mapping, you and your dermatologist will be equipped with the tools to monitor your moles over time and identify suspicious lesions early. This ability to monitor moles for evolution over time will also save you from unnecessary skin biopsies. Studies have shown that there is a higher diagnostic pick-up rate of melanomas compared to benign moles when mole mapping devices are used.

As we know, most melanomas arise from normal skin and not pre-existing moles. Hence, it is very important to have baseline full body photographs of you for comparison in the future, instead of just photographs of individual moles.

Early detection of melanoma can dramatically improve cure and survival rates of the disease. However, the early signs of melanoma can be ambiguous and the lesions can easily be mistaken for benign moles. For a person with a lot of moles, it may not be immediately obvious that a new lesion has appeared. This is why monitoring these pigmented lesions is essential in skin cancer screening.

Compared to skin self-examination, mole mapping offers a record that can be used to determine whether a lesion is new or has changed in any way.

Mole mapping has been found to improve diagnostic accuracy, detect earlier stage melanomas, and reduce treatment costs. It has also been found to improve detection of new or subtle melanomas that did not fit the classical clinical profile of the disease.

Here at Dermatology & Surgery Clinic, we combine our Mole Mapping service with clinical examination by our dermatologists and dermatoscopy, to provide a comprehensive skin cancer screening service for you. With our upcoming Tele-Dermatology service we aim to enhance melanoma surveillance and early detection efforts for skin cancer management.

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