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Mole mapping

Mole mapping is a screening service that can help spot skin cancer at its earliest stage. We look at what a screening would involve

Mole mapping is a procedure to screen for a type of skin cancer (melanoma). It involves using specialist imaging technology to take detailed images of your skin. The images are analysed by a specialist skin doctor (dermatologist) to identify any changes in your skin and allow for early detection of melanoma.

Mole mapping is usually done once a year and images are stored on a database so your dermatologist can detect any gradual changes over time.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of your body. Once it spreads, melanoma can be life threatening. Detecting melanoma in the early stages of the disease is important to prevent it from spreading.

The main cause of melanoma is ultraviolet (UV) light from sun exposure or the use of sunbeds.

What are the symptoms of melanoma?

The main symptom of melanoma is a new mole, or changes to an existing mole. These changes may include a mole that:

  • Is particularly large (more than 6mm wide)
  • Has uneven edges
  • Has a mixture of colours
  • Changes in shape, size, or colour
  • Bleeds
  • Is sore, swollen, itchy, or crusty

You are more likely to develop melanoma on areas of your body that are frequently exposed to the sun like your face, hands, chest, or arms. Some less common types of melanoma can appear on other parts of your body such as the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, eyes, and genitals.

Call or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private mole mapping melanoma screening with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group. This page explains what mole mapping is, what happens during the procedure and what to expect afterwards.

The cost of this procedure depends on your individual circumstances. At the time of your appointment your consultant will discuss all options with you and ensure all your questions are answered.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you.

If you have private health insurance, the procedure will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

Mole mapping is recommended if you have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

You may have a higher risk of getting melanoma if you have:

  • A family history of skin cancer
  • Had skin cancer before
  • Spent a lot of time in the sun such as working outside, or living in a hot climate
  • Had severe sun burn in the past
  • A large number of moles or skin spots
  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • Unusual moles such as large, uneven, or mixed colour moles
  • A suppressed immune system due to medication or a medical condition

The main benefit of mole mapping is that any changes are detected early, and it allows your consultant to identify any moles that may be dangerous. In the earliest stages of the disease melanoma is normally curable with minor surgery.

If you have a high risk of developing skin cancer, mole mapping is a proactive approach that can put your mind at rest and alleviate any fears or anxiety you may have about the disease.

At your first consultation, you will be seen by a consultant dermatologist, a doctor specialising in the treatment of skin conditions.

Your consultant will ask you about any symptoms you have and your reasons for deciding to have mole mapping. They will ask you about your medical and family history and examine any moles or skin spots.

Why is this first consultation so important?

At Circle Health Group, your first appointment is where your first meet your consultant, the doctor responsible for your care. Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have.

It is important to us that you are as well-informed and comfortable as possible during the procedure, so please discuss any questions or concerns with your consultant at your first appointment.

Mole mapping is a non-invasive procedure that requires very little preparation. You can eat and drink as normal before your appointment. Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early for your appointment as you will need to fill out a questionnaire.

On the day of your appointment:

  • Do not wear anything that may discolour your skin such as makeup or fake tan
  • Don’t wear body or hand lotion
  • Tie your hair up away from your face and neck
  • Trim any body hair in areas where you have moles or skin spots to be photographed
  • Don’t wear nail varnish or jewellery
  • If you have any moles that can’t easily be seen such as on your scalp, or under your underwear, please inform your consultant before your appointment

When you arrive for your appointment you will be asked to fill in a questionnaire about your moles and why you have decided to have the procedure.

After explaining what will happen during the procedure, your nurse will take around 16 to 18 standardised images of all the moles on your skin. These images will be stored in a database to allow your consultant to monitor any changes in your moles over time.

After your mole mapping, your consultant will go through your questionnaire, examine your skin, and identify any worrying moles for closer examination using higher resolution photographic (dermoscopic) examination.

At the end of your appointment, your consultant will discuss the results of your mole mapping and advice you on what to do next.

Mole mapping usually takes about 30 minutes.

There are four main outcomes from mole mapping. Your consultant will discuss your results with you and offer you advice, depending on the results.

  • Low risk  — you can choose to keep an eye on your moles yourself, continued self-examination and review at the clinic, or further review in one year
  • Intermittent risk  — we would advise yearly mole mapping with a consultant review
  • Abnormal mole with some concern  — we may advise either removal of the mole, or close monitoring every three or six months
  • Abnormal mole with greater concern — removal of the mole is advised. This may be done the same day

Mole mapping does not require any recovery time and you can go home and resume normal activities straight after your appointment.

There are no potential risks or complications associated with mole mapping.

At Circle Health Group, we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about mole mapping, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2024. Next review due March 2027.

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