Each year, over 2 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer. 50,000 of these will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Regular skin checks can assist in detecting melanoma in its earliest stages.
Cancer screening has just gone mobile with a new free app called UMSkinCheck, downloadable on iTunes.
The development of UMSkinCheck is a collaboration of Michigan University’s technology and clinical expertise designed for iPhones and iPads.
Users can create a photographic baseline of their skin and can take photos of suspicious moles or other skin lesions, which the app helps to self-examine in a step-by-step process.
UMSkinCheck automatically reminds users to monitor any changes in their skin lesions over a period of time, providing pictures of various skin cancer-types for comparison.
Michael Sabel, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School and lead physician involved in the app’s development explains:
“Whole body photography is a well-established resource for following patients at risk for melanoma. However, it requires a professional photographer, is not always covered by insurance, and can be an inconvenience. Now that many people have digital cameras on their phones, it’s more feasible to do this at home.”
Users are guided through a series of 23 photos stored in the app as a baseline for future comparisons, which cover the entire body from head to toe. The app automatically creates a reminder to repeat a skin self-exam on a regular basis.
Users can share photos of moles that seem to change or grow in size with a dermatologist, who will help to determine whether a biopsy is necessary.
“We recommend skin self-exams for everyone in order to detect skin cancer at the earliest stages, when skin cancer treatment is less invasive and more successful. If you have fair skin or burn easily, have had sunburns in the past or used tanning beds, or have a family history of melanoma, you are considered high-risk, and so it’s even more important.”
For those who are unsure of their risk factor for skin cancer, the app includes a risk calculator that allows people to enter their personal data to calculate their personal risk factor.