Calls for health insurers to include mole mapping in general policies
The Mole Screening Clinic
THERE HAVE BEEN calls by mole-mapping clinics for the service to be included on demand under general health insurance policies.
Mole mapping, microscopic images taken of moles so they can be recorded for future reference and comparison, can help detect the early signs of skin cancer and although mole mapping is not available under a health insurance schemes, the removal of moles that are deemed to be dangerous are.
At the moment, mole mapping is available under some health insurance policies – but only if it has been recommended to a patient by a dermatologist who has deemed the patient to be at high risk of melanoma or skin cancer. For other policy holders, it is deemed a ‘cosmetic’ procedure and not eligible for general insurance cover.
Mike Malone, managing director of the Mole Screening Clinic, told TheJournal.ie that for the past two years they have been lobbying health insurers to include mole mapping in their policies.
“In countries like Australia and New Zealand, mole mapping is as common as putting petrol in your car,” said Malone. “Prevention is always better than cure.”
However, Patrick Ormond, a consultant dermatologist at St James’s Hospital and the Hermitage Clinic in Dublin stressed that the evidence that mole mapping is of benefit is “not strong”. He said: “It is useful in high-risk patients but it hasn’t proved to be useful in the vast majority of people.”
He said that a GP or dermatologist was better equipped to check moles for potentially malignant changes and that mole mapping should only be part of a full skin examination by a doctor. When a medic has examined the patient and believes them to be a high-risk case, they may well order a mole-mapping test and this will be covered by most health insurers.
Guide to skin cancer. (Image: Mole Screening Clinic)
Donna Parsons spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society, said they believe that it is more important for people to check and know their own skin rather than having their moles mapped digitally.
“Check moles for changes. If there is a change people should go and see their doctor, they are the experts and those changes have to be investigated,” Parsons told TheJournal.ie.
However Malone disagrees. He says it is difficult for a patient to track a mole if it is somewhere like on their back.
With May being Melanoma Awareness Month, people are being advised to get whatever moles they are concerned about checked out as Ireland has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.
“Ninety per cent of all skin cancer is curable if detected early,” warns Malone.
If you have moles, consider the ABCDE rule:
- Border: Irregular, wavy, uneven border, clearly defined against surrounding skin.
- Colour: Uneven colour, light brown to black or maybe a different colour to the rest of your moles
- Diameter: A mole that is greater than 6mm.
- Evolving: Rapid changes in size (width), colour or thickness.
The Irish Cancer Society also wants to remind people of the SunSmart Code:
- Seek Shade: from the sun when UV rays are at their strongest – between 11am and 3pm.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses: make sure they give UV protection.
- Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and UVA protection 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours – more often if swimming or perspiring.
- Babies: Keep babies under six months out of the sun.
POLL: What do you think: should mole mapping be included in health insurance policies?