Full Body Photography
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises from the cells of the skin that create pigmentation to the skin-melanocytes. Common moles (also called nevi) need to be monitored for changes because a change in a mole could be a sign of a melanoma.
Can all moles be removed?
Based on epidemiologic data, the risk of an atypical mole changing into melanoma is one in hundreds; and the risk of a normal (or benign) moles changing into melanoma is one in thousands. For this reason, dermatologists don’t remove a mole unless it’s changing or new.
Who needs Full Body Photography?
Many moles may put you at risk for developing melanoma. Typically, you are at increased risk of melanoma if you have more than 50 regular moles OR more than 5 atypical moles. If necessary, your dermatologist may recommend and perform photography to document your moles. These pictures can be checked at your visit to detect changes in your moles or if you have developed new moles.
Family history of melanoma
Family history of melanoma does increase a person’s risk for melanoma. Family history means that either your parents, brother, sister, or children had melanoma. This family history can increase your risk by at least two fold. If you have a family history of melanoma, it may be appropriate to perform full body photography.
Personal history of melanoma increases your risk of developing a second and even third melanoma. Men are twice as likely as woman to get a second melanoma. Subsequent primary melanomas are typically diagnosed after an average of 2.8-3.8 years. If you have a personal history of melanoma, it may be appropriate to perform full body photography.
UV exposure (sun exposure) has a large role in the development of melanoma. Blistering sunburns between 15 to 20 years of age double the risk of melanoma. Earlier age of tanning bed use appears to be a factor also. More than 10 tanning bed sessions between the ages of 18-29 years increase the risk of melanoma by 6.5X fold, and more than 10 tanning bed sessions between the ages of 30-39 years increase the risk of melanoma by 1.67X fold. If you have had several blistering sunburns or have used a tanning bed, it may be appropriate to perform full body photography.