New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. With a large amount of fair-skinned people, lots of sunshine and outdoor lifestyles, it is a perfect storm for skin cancer. According to Melanoma New Zealand, over 4,000people are diagnosed with melanoma in New Zealand each year. But when caught early, it is highly treatable. That’s why checking your moles and knowing the options that exist locally for diagnosis is so important. Below, we’ll go over what you need to know about checking your moles and the mole map options available in Wellington.
Know the warning signs
The first step to catching skin cancer early is educating yourself about the warning signs. Most melanoma skin cancer will develop from a new mole or changes in a pre-existing mole. Take inventory of all the moles and blemishes on your skin so you know what’s normal for your body and can spot any changes should they occur. Once you know what’s normal, look out for the following changes and warning signs in your moles:
· A change in size, especially when the mole gets larger
· Edges of the mole become irregular and blotchy
· The color of the mole becomes uneven with many colors and dark spots
· The mole is no longer symmetrical
· The mole is itchy or painful
· The mole bleeds, scabs or becomes crusty
· The mole becomes inflamed
· The mole raises in the center or becomes thicker
If you spot anything suspicious, contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately.
What exactly is a mole map?
Now that you know the basic signs of a troublesome mole, it’s time to go over the technique of mole mapping and how it works to catch skin cancer early.
Mole mapping is a method to create an overview of the moles on your body. For a lot of people, that means that tens to even hundreds of moles need to be visualised. Suspicious moles, of course, are the priority – but also moles that are completely fine will be taken into this process. It’s a way to follow the possible growth (or any other changes) to these moles over longer periods of time.
When a mole is photographed a few times, it’s becoming easier to see if there have been any developments. Normally, mole mapping will be done every 3 to 6 months to track changes.
When it comes to mole mapping, a good first step is to assess your own skin type risk. For people with a light skin and a lot of moles, it’s advised by dermatologists to check moles every 3 months. You can start this process yourself by archiving photos of moles, and follow this up with dermatologist checks.
Mole map options Wellington
The good news is if you live in Wellington, you have clinics close by that can conduct a thorough examination of your moles. But as a first step, map the moles you worry about with the SkinVision app so you can track changes over time yourself – and show them to your doctor to highlight changes.