Researchers say atypical nevi are the strongest risk factors for melanoma skin cancer. Previous research also shows patients have a better chance of survival if melanoma is detected early.
New research shows patients who use photographs of their own skin for reference are more likely to keep better track of new or changed moles. Researchers in New York studied 50 patients who had five or more atypical nevi, or pigmented moles that may change shape or have irregular borders. Patients in the study had photographs taken of their backs, chests and abdomens where moles were present. They also performed skin self-exams during doctor's visits and were given copies of the photographs. Researchers then changed the appearance of the patients' existing moles and created new moles on the photographs using cosmetic eyeliner pencils.
Results of the study show patients who used the photographs were nearly 73 percent accurate in detecting new or changed moles. On the other hand, patients who performed skin self-exams only were about 60 percent accurate.
Thus researchers say that access to baseline photography improved the diagnostic accuracy of SSE [skin self-examinations] on the back and chest or abdomen and improved detection of changing and new moles and they also say that their results suggest that baseline digital photography in tandem with SSE may be effective in improving the diagnostic accuracy of patients performing SSE.