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As a survivor of melonoma skin cancer, I am a poster girl for getting things checked and so I went to Molemap in Takapuna to share with readers exactly what happens and what to expect...
We all know that New Zealanders and Australians have high rates of skin cancer. Whilst we can't find all of them, and not all come from a mole, we can endeavour to do all we can, as prevention is way better than cure.
Early detection is key too, so have regular looks at yourself at home and take anything dodgy straight away to get looked at. Look for changes in colours, shape, size and anything scaley or bleeding (obviously). Molemap told me they have the best stats of all of finding melonomas: GPs (doctors) find less than 89%, Dermatologists up to 90%, and Molemap is best, finding 95%.
So I went to Molemap in Takapuna for a checkup. What can you expect?
First up, you will fill in a form with your details. You can choose to have your results used in medical research if you wish.
Make sure you wear clean underwear - you'll ned to strip down for those body shots. After that, you get a fetching blue robe to wear as moles are photographed one by one, with red felt tip dots marking what's been done.
It is very high tech; unlike a GP who just looks at moles visually, Molemap takes macro and micro photos to look for causes of concern. This technique, Dermoscopy, combines high magnification and high light intensity to penetrate the first layer of skin. Photos are kept on your records to compare year by year to check for any changes.
At the end you pay - it's not cheap ($220 a session for low-mole count, $285 for high-mole count and $120 for children) but this is because as well as the session in the rooms, (up to two hours long) a professional Dermatologist spends a lot of time going over all the results. You are emailed the results in 7 to 10 days with any recommendations to follow up moles for further checks, or removal for biopsy, and so on.
So there you have it. Speaking from personal experience, I can say get yourself checked!
Megan Robinson 22 July 2012