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Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, accounting for almost half of all cancers. Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in the US, and last year saw the diagnosis of over 76,000 cases of melanoma - the most deadly form of the disease.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers, also referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers, are those that develop on the outer layers of the skin - in the basal cells or squamous cells.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that forms in the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, known as melanocytes. Symptoms of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers include a change in the size or color of a mole, growth or spot on the skin, a new growth, a change in skin sensation - such as itchiness, pain or tenderness - and a spread of pigmentation outside the border of a mole or mark on the skin. A number of smartphone apps claim to be able to assess certain skin changes and inform individuals whether such changes warrant a visit to a dermatologist for further analysis. In 2012, Medical News Today reported on the creation of a skin cancer app called UMSkinCheck. The app - available to download for free from the iPhone App Store - provides guidance on how to check for skin lesions and moles, and users can take photos of any suspicious lesions or moles and have the app assess them.
Last year, MNT reported on another skin cancer app called Mole Detective - available for purchase through Google Play.
Most recently came the launch of an app called SkinVision, which claims to assist in the early detection of melanoma. SkinVision uses a mathematical theory called "fractal geometry" to analyze photos of skin lesions and moles taken by the user. In a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology last year, researchers tested the accuracy of the app through the analysis of 195 pictures of skin lesions. Three of the apps used algorithms to assess the risk of cancer among 188 photos of skin lesions - 60 pre-diagnosed as melanoma and 128 pre-diagnosed as benign - while the fourth app sent the photos to a dermatologist for assessment. It should be noted that the majority of skin cancer app developers point out that users should not solely rely on the apps for skin cancer detection.
But in these modern times, we tend to rely on technology for many aspects of life, and a 2012 survey from the Pew Research Internet Project revealed that around 35% of US adults say they have used online resources - including health apps - to diagnose a medical condition.


Although many health professionals have raised concerns regarding the reliance on skin cancer apps, others have praised such apps in terms of potentially raising awareness among the general public and encouraging patients to visit a dermatologist for assessment. At this point in time, health professionals are in agreement that skin cancer apps are not accurate enough to be used in replacement of a dermatologist for assessing an individual's risk of skin cancer. But for now, health professionals and organizations worldwide recommend that if an individual notices any suspicious marks or lesions on the skin, or changes in moles or skin sensation, the first port of call should be a doctor or dermatologist. This article follows on from a spotlight feature compiled by MNT in September, in which we investigated whether health apps do more harm than good. Accuracy of a smartphone application using fractal image analysis of pigmented moles compared to clinical diagnosis and histological result, T. ABC News, Smartphone apps can fall short in detecting skin cancer, study finds, accessed 19 November 2014. Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:MLAWhiteman, Honor. For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please see our contact page. Please note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. Send Home Our method Usage examples Index Contact StatisticsWe do not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content in this site. These images are a random sampling from a Bing search on the term "Thoracic Spine Anatomy." Click on the image (or right click) to open the source website in a new browser window. But if it is detected early - before it has spread to other parts of the body - it is almost always curable. Although it is less common than basal or squamous cell skin cancers, it is much more aggressive. The app also reminds users to monitor any skin changes over time, and it includes information on skin cancer prevention. The app analyzes pictures of skin moles and analyzes them using the ABCDE (asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution) method undertaken by dermatologists.
According to the manufacturers, SkinVision is the first app to use this theory for early melanoma detection.


Wolf and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, PA, analyzed four smartphone apps that claim to detect skin cancer.
The other three apps that used algorithms, however, were found to incorrectly categorize a large number of skin lesions.
It is great to be able to constantly monitor blood pressure and keep track of our weight or what we are eating. This can't be a person's only dermatologist." Ken Beer, a dermatologist in West Palm Beach, FL, told The Wall Street Journal last year. Perna added that UV index information alone is unlikely to be enough to change a person's UV-protective behavior, but that it could help. Ultimately, the degree to which an app-intervention approach yields poor results and possibly iatrogenic effects is an empirical research question.
There are now an array of smartphone applications available claiming to aid early detection of skin cancer. The app then calculates a person's risk of skin cancer dependent on the characteristics of their mole. However, clinical diagnoses through dermatologists presented 88% sensitivity and 97% specificity. Even the most accurate app missed almost 30% of melanomas, diagnosing them as low-risk lesions.
But when it comes to a diagnosis of skin cancer, some professionals believe that relying on a smartphone app for detection is worrying.
SkinVision - and other apps - provide information of the ultraviolet (UV) index in a user's area, allowing them to take appropriate action to reduce excess UV exposure - a primary cause of skin cancer.



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