I have a family history of ‘Dodgy Moles’, my mum has had several taken off, so after spotting a large ‘puffy’ mole on my right arm I decided it was time to get the bugger looked at. However, my experience with my local NHS GP is so bad that I decided he couldn’t be trusted off to give me an opinion which wasn’t just a fob off to get him through to his next patient. I therefore needed an alternative…
I was assuming there was a NHS Skin Cancer Screening Clinic, after all Skin Cancer is the 5th most prevalent cancer in the UK and 13,000 new cases are diagnosed each year (Source: Cancer Research). In fact “the lifetime risk of developing malignant melanoma in the UK is estimated to be 1 in 61 for men and 1 in 60 for women” and thus it is hardly uncommon. Furthermore it “…is highly treatable when it is diagnosed in its early stages, and it is usually relatively easy to diagnose.” (Source: University of California). I was therefore a little surprised that there is not a widespread NHS Skin Cancer clinic available in the UK, especially since ‘Smear Tests’ for the detection of cell damage which could be associated with present or future Cervical Cancer.
Enter Mole Clinic
A service called Mole Clinic have jumped into this gap left by the NHS. I had never heard of them before and only found their services through my google search. A quick scan of their website revealed they have quite a few credentials, including positive reviews from the national press. They offer a number of services including a ‘Top to Toe’ check of the moles for £115. Any moles identified as ‘suspicious’ are referred to a Dermatologist for £45 for the first mole and £30 for each subsequent mole.
My Experience of The Mole Clinic
I was cautious of spending so much money for a ‘check up’ but finally I convinced myself to go for peace of mind. My partner was upset at me for spending this amount of money as she was ‘certain they would find some moles to refer to the dermatologist’. Her fears were not put to rest when I arrived at the reception of the clinic. As I filled out my registration form It was not difficult to listen to the high volume conversation the receptionist was having with one of the nurses about their bonus scheme and whether ‘they would reach the target’. Given the fact that these two were not sales staff I can only assume the bonus scheme is based on selling extra services or incentivizing the discovery of moles for referral. Obviously, this was not a great first impression!
After a short wait I was soon stripped down to my underwear and being examined. The nurse was pleasant enough and seemed knowledgable on moles and those that were displayed risky symptoms. She began marking certain moles and once we finished the examination she proceeded to take photos of two moles, one on my back and one on my chest. She showed me these pictures on her computer screen and told me that these moles were going to be referred to a dermatologist, I admit they looked a little strange zoomed up but I was never informed about the extra cost of this service and whether I wanted to proceed.
Once in reception I was charged for £115 + £45 + £30 as stated above and told that I would receive results within 2 working days. I was extremely unhappy about the conversation I had overheard on the reception, added to this the lack of clarity on informing the customers that further diagnosis of moles was an additional cost on top of the mole screening. However, another gentleman was settling his bill at the same time as me and I was relieved to note that he was paying for a normal ‘check up’ and not extras. Also, one of my moles that was picked out for referral, I have to confess is one of the moles I had been worried about.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received a professional looking PDF waiting for me in my email the next morning – The Results. As part of the PDF was my risk profile, high resolution pictures of my moles and the diagnosis. This was an extremely rapid service!
The result was that both were ‘Moderately Atypical’ and that I should return in three months to see if the mole was changing.
So in November 2012, Three months later I returned and much to my relief I was informed that the moles had not changed and to revert to self monitoring (further £45 + £30 payable). What a relief.
In the absence of any NHS service in your area then this service is invaluable despite the high price to those with a family history of skin cancer, fair skin, multiple moles and those who have been sun burnt.
I was put off to some extent by the unprofessional behaviour of the staff and thus I would advise you to have the assessment (price £115) but any moles that are highlighted as being ‘abnormal’ should be taken to your NHS GP and you should ask for a referral to an NHS/Private (if covered by insurance) dermatologist for further assessment. That way you can avoid the expensive referral charges that The Mole Clinic levies for diagnosis by their own private dermatologist.