Smart phone app can now diagnose you for skin cancer

A mobile phone app that allows people to analyse their moles for cancer risk is a good tool, but should not be relied on in isolation, the Cancer Society of New Zealand warns.

Skin Scan, an application for iPhones, allows users to take photos of their moles and find out whether they are likely to be cancerous.

Released by Romanian company Cronian Labs, the technology

can be downloaded for $5.49.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand has applauded the technology as a way of reminding people to look after their skin and seek medical help for any changes to the appearance of moles.

Using specific mathematical algorithms, the tool calculates the mole’s shape and surrounding skin by building a structural map to reveal tissue growth patterns that help to identify abnormal developments.

It also takes into account the user’s age and gender.

It returns with a green, yellow or red result – showing whether the lesion is a low, medium or high risk of being cancerous.

Cancer Society health promotion manager Dr Jan Pearson tried the device and was impressed that it included the recommendation of visiting a doctor, but said more could be done for consumers.

“It listed some doctors’ surgeries, but not many. It’s designed more for an Australian market.”

But it also stores photos, so any changes to the mole over time can be monitored.

Pearson said that’s what people need to be aware of most, for everyone’s skin looks different.

“For melanoma, which is the most serious skin cancer, there are a number of different things that might be a melanoma. There’s a whole range of changes.”

But while the application makes it easier for people to monitor their moles, they should not rely on the technology alone, Pearson said.

“It could miss stuff, so my advice would be that if you’ve noticed any changes, see a doctor.

“You do need to detect it early.”

Those more at risk of developing skin cancer – particularly people with a number of moles, who have been seriously sunburnt in the past, or who have a family history of melanoma – should be extra careful, she said.

“Get someone to check the areas you can’t see yourself.

“That’s one of the things with skin cancer is you can see it.”

Specific changes to be wary of were a changed or new freckle, a mole which won’t heal, a spot which looks different from those around it and a spot which has changed size, shape or colour within the last few months.

One pitfall with the application was that it was not compatible with all iPhone cameras, because older models did not provide the quality image required.

“I tried it with an iPhone 3 and the camera wasn’t good enough, but I might have another play,” Pearson said.

“We’d be cautious to recommend it, but hopefully, it will make people more aware that they have to look after their skin and look for any changes.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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