Washington : A free new app called UMSkinCheck, designed for iPhone and iPad, will screen skin cancers by reminding users to compare unusual growths on their skin with actual photos provided by the app.
A collaboration of the University of Michigan Medical School technology and clinical expertise, the app guides users through a series of 23 photos, covering the body from head to toe. Photos are stored within the app and serve as a baseline for future comparisons.
The app will create a reminder to repeat a skin self-exam on a regular basis. If a mole appears to be changing or growing, the photos can then be shared with a dermatologist to help determine whether a biopsy is necessary, according to a Michigan statement.
"We recommend skin self-exams for everyone in order to detect skin cancer at the earliest stages, when treatment is less invasive and more successful," said Michael Sabel, associate professor of surgery at the Michigan Medical School, who led the project to develop the app.
"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," Sabel added. "Whole body photography is a well-established resource for following patients at risk for melanoma, (the most dangerous form of skin cancer)," said Sabel.
"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," added Sabel.
More than two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, and some 50,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma. Regular skin checks can help people discover melanoma in its earliest stages.