Total Body Photography

Another form of cancer screening is mole mapping. Early diagnosis and treatment of changing moles and melanomas give the best chance of a cure. Computer aided mole mapping monitors your skin effectively and is particularly important if you have multiple moles or are at high risk of skin cancer.

As skin cancer lead for Barnet and Chase Farm MDT for many years, Dr Stevens recognised a need for a service that provides easy-to-use, high-quality, high-resolution, standardised medical images for the follow-up of high-risk melanoma patients. Mole mapping is a medical record, not a therapy. Dr Stevens works with his team to determine whether or not a lesion should be removed by examining the whole skin and arranging further dermatoscopic evaluation of suspicious or changing lesions. This decision is based on multiple factors and total body photography provides an opportunity for the dermatologist to incorporate an objective assessment of lesion change into the decision-making process. This is not unlike using the medical record to identify changes in laboratory values, ECG or x-ray.

Melanomas result when the proliferation of melanocytic cells becomes uncontrolled. Thus, biologically, a growing melanocytic lesion should be considered worrisome for melanoma. With total body photography, non-uniform and growing lesions have been shown to be statistically more likely to be melanoma. The process picks up changes and is important in early melanoma detection. Total body photography and better skin surveillance reduces the number of unnecessary procedures and biopsies required to detect a melanoma.

Biologically, a lesion that has stopped growing (is stable) is unlikely to be malignant. In dermoscopy studies, lesion stability has been used to successfully differentiate between benign and malignant lesions. Clinicians such as Dr Stevens who utilise total body photography in patient follow-up, report relatively low benign/malignant ratios to below four to one, rather than 15:1 for specialists not employing these advanced imaging techniques. These studies strongly suggest that data on lesion stability reduces unnecessary biopsies and associated morbidity.

Howard Stevens Dermatologist London