Friday January 18, 2013
Apps that claim to detect skin cancer under question
Suspicious mole? New smartphone apps let you snap a photo and upload it for a skin cancer check. While it sounds easier than a trip to the dermatologist, a new review of these apps finds that most of them fall short of what they promise.
Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center uploaded 188 images of skin lesions to four different app-based services, which mostly relied on algorithms to detect, often in a matter of seconds, whether or not a spot was benign or worth a trip to a physician for examination.
Three of the four apps failed to catch at least one-in-three known cases of melanoma. Plus, the apps also falsely identified a slew of benign growths as possibly cancerous. A fourth app, which did a better job than the others, relies on board-certified dermatologists to review images in a 24-hour timeframe. The scientists didn't name which apps they tested.
Findings were published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Rather than let your smartphone diagnose your moles, experts suggest strictly using apps that make the self-check process easier, such as those that send reminders when it's time to check for moles, like UMSkinCheck, a free app from the University of Michigan. The app also provides a template for organizing photos to watch for changes over time to send to your dermatologist. -- AFP Relaxnews