Moles and Skin Cancer Management
All our consultant dermatologists are experts in moles and skin cancer screening. This has been a core part of our job since the beginning of our training and we are each part of skin cancer multidisciplinary teams at our respective NHS hospitals- a requirement for skin cancer work.
We will screen your moles and skin cancer risk by taking a relevant medical history, visual inspection and dermatoscopic evaluation. A dermatoscope (or dermascope) is a hand-held visual aid that has been shown in clinical studies published in respected medical journals to increase the accuracy of mole diagnosis in expert hands. It is more than a simple magnifier and allows us to determine patterns on the mole surface, which can often indicate whether it is harmless or a skin cancer without the need for cutting it out.
In some cases mole removal is required in order to test it. If this is needed we use only experienced dermatopathologists to analyse the mole under the microscope.
People with many moles may benefit from mole mapping. This is carried out at the Cadogan Clinic and involves review by a dermatologist followed by serial body photography of your skin and close up pictures of moles that require particular attention. This can aid in detecting changes in moles over a period of time by comparison with baseline images and hence enable early pick-up of skin cancers. Patients who have lots of moles ( > 50), especially irregular ones, and/or have a strong personal or family history of skin cancer may particularly benefit from this.
Please note the view of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) on mole mapping
“The BAD believes that non-invasive imaging techniques may have a role to play in the assessment of pigmented and other lesions of the skin. As such, they are often helpful in supporting the trained dermatologist in coming to a diagnosis.
The BAD has not seen any evidence that these imaging techniques, even when supplemented by computer processing and analysis of the images, can replace the experienced clinical opinion of a trained Consultant Dermatologist”
This is the latest validated technology in skin cancer diagnosis. It involves the use of a laser-assisted microscope to evaluate moles at a deeper level than is possible with the naked eye dermoscopy. The only one of its kind is for skin cancer diagnosis in the UK is housed at St John’s Institute of Dermatology. It has been shown to be useful in moles that are difficult to diagnose. At present it is primarily a research tool but is available to private patients as well. Dr Emma Craythorne is the lead clinician for this technology and skin imaging.