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The Royal Marsden Healthcare experts

Q&A with Dr Kara Heelan, Consultant Dermatologist

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Our mole-mapping clinic can benefit patients at risk of skin cancer, says Consultant Dermatologist Dr Kara Heelan.

13 April 2021

Dr Kara Heelan, Consultant Dermatologist

For referrals and enquiries, call 020 7811 8111 or email

Dr Kara Heelan, Consultant Dermatologist

What is mole mapping?

Mole mapping is a surveillance service that aims to monitor the appearance of moles over time and to identify new suspicious lesions or changes in existing lesions. Mole mapping may be offered to patients who are at risk of, or who are concerned about, developing skin cancer.

How is the service delivered?

It is led and delivered by dermatology consultants at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea and Sutton, and combines a clinical and dermoscopic examination of the skin with total body mapping and digital dermoscopy. We provide patients with copies of their images as this has been shown to increase self-surveillance, which is an important part of ongoing monitoring.

What does it involve?

We use the FotoFinder Bodystudio Automated Total Body Mapping machine to take a series of images of the patient’s skin. The separate images are automatically stitched together to create a whole-body map. This is then used to tag close-up digital dermoscopy images of individual suspect lesions. The images are then stored, and all follow-up photos – usually taken at six- to 12-month intervals – are automatically compared with the baseline images. This two-step method means we can detect and diagnose worrisome lesions quickly. In addition, the FotoFinder Moleanalyzer Pro uses artificial intelligence to evaluate and provide a score for each lesion, which serves as a second opinion.

How can patients access the service?

Our clinic is different from high street walk-in services, in which patients who don’t meet high-risk criteria may sometimes undergo mole mapping. This may lead to unnecessary excisions and make patients more anxious. By contrast, we only provide the service to patients who are deemed to be high risk and who would potentially benefit from it. These patients can be referred by their GP or consultant for consideration for mole mapping.