Total body photography is a way of adopting modern technology to aid those most at risk from skin cancer.
Medical conditions can increase the likelihood of skin cancer, such as inflammatory bowel diseases. Organ transplant patients and others with a suppressed immune system see a significantly higher incidence.
For people living with these factors, we can provide tailored screening programs, although the same should apply to any of us who have had previous incidences of skin cancer.
Even though the past case was completely cured, this is still an indicator of vulnerability. The principle applies to all types, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma but is particularly relevant for melanoma.
Whether in situ (in the top layer of the skin) or invasive, having a past melanoma puts you at greater risk of developing a subsequent melanoma. Medical factors such as dysplastic nevi, family history of melanoma, or certain gene variants also add risk.
We understand that having a melanoma and being cured can generate a feeling of wanting to put this from mind. The same can apply where other family members have suffered but in both cases, extra support makes sense.
The likelihood of melanoma recurring and the significant difference made by early detection have been confirmed by international research.
An In Depth Study
You will find further research mentioned in our skin cancer section, although we wanted to focus on a long term study concluding in mid 2021.
593 participants at high risk of melanoma, were monitored over a six year period. This involved full body examinations every 6 months, aided by total body photography (TBP) and sequential digital dermoscopy imaging (SDDI).
Over the full period, 1513 lesions were studied in detail, generally through biopsy. Alongside a range of other skin cancers, 171 were found to be primary melanomas. 67% of those melanomas were found with the assistance of TBP, or SDDI.
For the size of the group, incidence was high, with a 9% risk of developing a new melanoma in the first 2 years, then increasing. Even so, 96% of the lesions had a thickness of 1 mm or less, allowing them to be treated minimally and effectively.
A Clear Conclusion
As other studies have shown, being at high risk of skin cancer is not a myth. The patients involved in this case were not specially selected, except for having known high risk factors. In the main, previous melanoma, or genetic, or familial links.
The value of early detection was also reinforced, to improve survival rates, reduce treatment and by doing so, offer a better quality of life. The research group logically concluded that the type of program they ran should be more widely available.
Experience at our clinic entirely supports this, the reason we put such an emphasis on skin cancer screening, particularly for high risk patients.
Methods mentioned in the study, total body photography and sequential digital dermoscopy, are in use at our clinic, backed up by consultants with wide experience of skin cancer. They can also determine the best approach for your case and offer further options.
Where lesions are found, we can in many cases avoid the need for biopsy, through the use of confocal microscopy. This is a laser based system, able to look beneath your skin without a scalpel being required.
In the event that melanoma, or other lesions are detected, the latest skin cancer treatment is provided at our London clinic, without delay. With early detection, this will in the most cases be minimal and successfully eliminate dangers from that lesion.
Nobody can ever tell you that you won’t have skin cancer again, we wish there was a magic pill to take the disease away forever but there isn’t, at least not yet. If you are at risk, please seek support, the best way to stop an unwanted disease in its tracks.
- A detailed introduction covering: Melanoma Treatment.
- Additional skin cancer support: For Transplant Patients.
- The link between screening and: Infammatory Bowel Disease.
- Detailed menu on skin cancer: Conditions & Treatments.
- The latest views on prevention: Our Skin Cancer Blog.
For any advice, or to arrange a dermatology appointment, call 020 8441 1043, or send us an email via the Make An Appointment button below.