Mole scanning service now available in 17 Boots' pharmacies across Ireland

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland, with 11,000 cases being diagnosed every year. Experts predict this number will double by 2045; which is why Boots Ireland has rolled out its much-needed mole scanning service to 17 stores nationwide. Here's where you can avail of mole mapping, what it entails and how much it costs


Even when it's cloudy, even if there's a thunderstorm, the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays can damage our skin. More than 11,000 people in Ireland are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and what's more, that number is set to double by 2045.

Not only is it essential to wear sunscreen (with at least SPF 30) every day, it's also important to check and monitor any moles (or pigmented lesions) on your body for possible changes. Pharmacists at Boots Ireland are calling on people to get proactive about their skin health, and they have rolled out an innovative mole scanning service in 17 stores nationwide.

What is skin cancer?

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Skin cancer develops when your skin cells multiply faster than they're meant to. While anybody can develop the disease, some people are more at risk than others.

For example, anyone who spends time outdoors is at risk of skin cancer, not just people who sunbathe. This includes people who work or play sports outdoors (whether it's sunny outside or not); as well as people with sensitive skin.

If you have pale or freckled skin that tends not to tan (or skin that burns before it tans); if you have naturally red or fair hair; blue, green or grey eyes, then you’re genetically more likely to develop skin cancer than others.

You're also more at risk if you've ever used a sunbed; if you have a large number of moles; a history of sunburn; or a close family member who's had skin cancer in the past.

Heather Feeney, a pharmacist at Boots, says, “Many people in Ireland have fair skin and burn easily, and UV rays can cause skin damage even on overcast days. We have seen growing rates of skin cancer diagnoses in Ireland, but if spotted early, up to 90% of cases are curable.

"We hope the mole scanning service will encourage people to be more proactive about their skin health and help identify changes that might be suspicious,” she says.

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What is a mole?

A mole is a small cluster of pigment-producing cells that forms in an oval or circular shape on the skin. It can be flat or raised; smooth or rough; light or dark in colour, and sometimes it can have hair growing out of it.

As moles can look different from person to person, it’s vital you become familiar with yours. As soon as your ‘normal’ begins to change, it’s time to get it professionally checked.

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What does Boots' mole scanning involve?

Developed by ScreenCancer, the Boots' mole scanning service uses a special device called a SIAscope to scan moles and pigmented lesions. A member of the Boots healthcare team will take images of your moles or pigmented lesions using the SIAscope in a private consultation room, with a consultation typically lasting around 20 minutes.

These images (and any information collected) are then sent securely and assessed by a ScreenCancer dermatology specialist. Each person will receive an individual assessment report.

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The mole scanning service costs €39 for one mole scanned (and €19 for each additional mole scan, up to a maximum of four moles). What's more, you can avail of Boots Advantage points (using your Boots' card) following the service.

Photo by Irish Pharmacy News

Boots pharmacist Heather Feeney says, “With the mole scanning service, consultation typically takes just 20 minutes, so people can avail of the service at a time that suits them, even popping in over their lunch break.

"It’s a good idea to be vigilant in spotting any changes to your skin, and in particular moles. As [moles] are often in hard-to-view areas (such as the back), it’s difficult to notice gradual changes," she says.

"This simple scan is a great way to either put your mind at ease or quickly move to get further investigation if needs be.”

The ABCDE guide

As part of the service, customers will also be shown how to assess their moles at home using the ABCDE guide.

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The guide advises you to monitor moles for:

A – Asymmetry: Irregular shape – the two halves should be symmetrical

B – Borders: Unclear, irregular or ragged boundaries against normal skin

C – Colour: Changes in colour – especially black, blue or uneven colours

D – Diameter: More than 5-6mm in diameter and changes in size

E – Evolving: Changes in shape, size and colour, itching or bleeding of existing moles, or a new mole

Where to avail of mole scanning

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The 17 Boots pharmacies nationally providing the Mole Scanning Service include:

  1. Navan
  2. Dundalk
  3. Galway Shop St
  4. Swords
  5. Sligo
  6. William St, Limerick
  7. Carrick on Shannon
  8. Half Moon St, Cork
  9. Maynooth
  10. Castlebar
  11. St Stephen’s Green
  12. Newbridge
  13. Blanchardstown
  14. Kilkenny McDonagh Junction
  15. Carrigaline
  16. Carrickmines
  17. Wexford

For more information on this nationwide mole mapping service, visit boots.ie/health-pharmacy-advice/mole-scanning.

Feature photo: Bruno Salvadori via Pexels


Read more: Skin health: 90% of skin cancer in Ireland caused by UV rays from the sun

Read more: The best new sunscreens for your face, no matter your skin type

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Read more: Breast cancer awareness: how to check your breasts at home

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