Skin mole check: do I go to GP or direct to dermatologist in France?

Consider the ABCDE technique, but get it looked at if you are concerned

Moles on a person's back
The vast majority of moles are not cancerous

Reader Question: I have a mole on my back that I am concerned about. Should I see a specialist?

If you are concerned about a mole, you can see a doctor to check whether or not it is dangerous.

Before doing so you can check it at home, but it is always important to follow up any concerns with a healthcare professional. 

Skin experts recommend the ‘ABCDE’ method for analysing the potential danger of a mole.

You can assess it for five main features: 

  • Asymmetry: Is one side of the mole very different to the other half? 

  • Border: Does the mole have uneven, irregular, or poorly defined borders?

  • Colour: Does the mole have multiple colours, ranging from a tan to a dark brown? 

  • Diameter: Moles larger than 6 millimetres in diameter are more likely to be melanomas

  • Evolving: Has the shape or size of the mole changed?

It is best to see a doctor if your mole exhibits any of these traits. 

Around 80% of moles tested for cancer are benign and can be removed through a routine operation.

Should I make an appointment with my GP? 

It is possible to make an appointment with your GP (médicin traitant), who can refer you to a specialist where necessary.

You can also make an appointment directly with a dermatologist, for example using the website/application Doctolib, without going via your GP.

However, be aware that if you are insured in the French system and you do this, you will only be reimbursed at 30% of a fixed state tariff instead of 70%, and if you have top-up insurance this will not cover you for the difference.

Dermatologists are in demand and you may have to wait several weeks, or in some parts of France, several months. 

Appointment slots with a dermatologist take longer to secure than standard appointments with a GP, however shorter visio (online) appointment slots can be found.

This could be used as a first step to speak to an expert about your mole. 

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