What Is A Mole?

The term “mole” includes all major types of brown spots – nevus, keratosis and lentigo. Even for a dermatologist, it can be difficult to distinguish nevus from keratosis and lentigo (a biopsy is performed when a dermatologist is confronted with this dilemma). Only nevus can theoretically turn into melanoma.

Most moles (nevi) are innocent biologically, but some may transform into melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer). Dysplastic Nevi (atypical moles; atypical nevi) are regarded as potential precursors of malignant melanoma (the most aggressive form of skin cancer). It is thought that only a small proportion of dysplastic nevi  become melanoma. The greater the number of these lesions that a patient has, the greater should the melanoma risk; those who have ten or more have more than ten times the risk of developing malignant melanoma as compared with the general population. Moles which show concerning features are often removed so as to prevent melanoma and also to have confirmation from the laboratory (the tissue is examined by a pathologist).

Up to fifteen percent of the Canadians have these moles. At times it is difficult to distinguish dysplastic nevi from early melanoma. Often, a hand held magnification device called a dermatoscope is used; this device helps to visualize subsurface aspects of the mole. When concerning features are noted, the mole is removed so that it can be examined under the microscope and the definitive diagnosis can be established. Patients with numerous dysplastic nevi are at high risk of developing malignant melanoma. Mole mapping technology allows for early melanoma detection; read more here  about mole mapping

Total Body Mapping

mole mapping foto finder
How Does Mole Mapping Work?

When you arrive, you are greeted by our experienced and trained staff. We recognize that you are busy and every effort is made to be on time. High resolution digital images of your moles are taken in standardized poses. This requires removal of clothing. We do not do genital photography, however. If a genital mole is of concern, this is examined clinically by the dermatologist). We pay particular attention to moles that you are worried about (however, it is noteworthy that many of the concerning lesions that we identify may not be the same moles that are of concern to the patient).

Moles of the scalp are difficult to photograph because of hair, of course and a clinical examination is required for assessment this area of the body.

We Recommend The So-Called "ABCDE" Criteria

Most concerning moles “violate” at least two of these criteria and this should prompt a visit to the dermatologist.

A. Asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes

B. Border. Look for moles with irregular, notched, “saw-toothed” borders.

C. Colour irregularity. Look for moles that have multiple shades of brown or an uneven distribution of colour.

D. Diameter. Most melanoma cancers are more than 6 mm in maximum diameter, although exceptions exist. 

E. Evolution or new Elevation. This is the MOST important criterion. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes colour or shape.  Mole Mapping is the

Do I Need A Referral?

Referrals from general practitioners are accepted but these are not necessary.

How Long Does The Procedure Take?

This depends on the number of moles that you have but start to finish is classically less than an hour of your time, unless there are a very large number of moles.

Who Performs My Mole Mapping?

Nurses or other trained health professionals with experience in dermatology do the image capture. The mole map images are subsequently assessed by dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Alanen who has subspecialty interest and expertise in moles and melanoma. Dr. Alanen’s assessment is completed within one week of your visit.  

When Do I Get Seen In A Follow-Up?

This depends on your individual risk factors and the number and type of moles that you have. For most patients, it is between six and twelve months.

Does It Hurt?

No, it is not painful. It is a completely non-invasive procedure.

What If A Concerning Lesion Is Found?

You will be contacted and it will be recommended that a biopsy or removal of a suspicious lesion should be performed. If feasible, a biopsy or removal may be done on the same day. Please remember that not all suspicious lesions turn out to be melanoma. Concerning lesions identified during a mole mapping session are removed in Dr. Alanen’s dermatology clinic (Derm.ca).

Will This Always Detect Melanoma?

Every effort is made for early detection of melanoma. No technology or amount of medical training is 100% effective for early detection, but this approach (authentic formal dermatology training, significant clinical experience, cutting edge technology), represents the highest level of diagnostic expertise.

Is This Covered By Alberta Health And Wellness?

No. Unfortunately this is not an insured service. However, some health spending accounts can offset this expense.

Complete Skin Review

A Complete Skin Review is a comprehensive preventative procedure that takes into account personal and skin conditions, concerning spots, and a thorough overview of your skin.

Learn More


Melanoma is much less common than some other types of skin cancers. But melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early.

Learn More

Mole and Skin Tag Removal

Liquid Nitrogen Therapy is a highly effective method of removing precancerous and benign noncancerous skin tags, moles, and warts.

Learn More

Mole Check / Skin Cancer & Surveillance

Dr. Alanen is an authentic expert in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disease. He is a recognized skin cancer specialist, having performed over 14,000 surgeries (including Mohs' surgeries).

Learn More

Here’s What Our Patients Are Saying…

“I had a number of suspicious looking moles and other brown marks on my back, chest, and shoulders which were very concerning. I saw Dr. Alanen and cannot express how knowledgeable and thorough he was in going through the Mole Mapping process. He explained everything and answered all of my questions. Luckily there was nothing to be concerned about but I now have a baseline to work from. I highly recommend Derm.ca and Dr. Alanen
-Gilbert L.

Schedule A Complimentary Consultation

You can never be overly cautious with your skin. If you are concerned about moles on your body or you simply want to be aware of what is happening with your skin, ask us about mole mapping. Contact Derm.ca in Calgary to schedule a consultation.

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