Can Your iPhone Detect Skin Cancer?

By Amir Khan on July 19, 2012 11:09 AM EDT

iPhone
Are you worried that some of the moles on your body may be cancerous, but don't want to make a trip to the dermatologist's office for nothing? A new iPhone app can help you track your moles and determine whether you need to make an appointment. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Are you worried that some of the moles on your body may be cancerous, but don't want to make a trip to the dermatologist's office for nothing? A new iPhone app can help you track your moles and determine whether you need to make an appointment.

The app, UMSkinCheck, was designed by the University of Michigan  and allows you to track suspicious moles using your smartphone's camera. It walks users through a full body exam and also reminds you to check the area periodically to see if things have changed.

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"Whole body photography is a well-established resource for following patients at risk for melanoma," Michael Sabel, associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School, who developed the app, said in a statement. "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."

Changes in moles or the presence of new ones can indicate skin cancer, according to the American Melanoma Foundation. Experts say to use the ABCD rule when examining your moles:

A: Symmetry -- is one half different than the other?

B: Border Irregularity -- are the edges uneven?

C: Color -- is the color uneven?

D: Diameter -- is the diameter greater than 6 millimeters?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should get yourself checked out.

The app also includes a risk calculator where you can input your information to figure out if you are at risk for melanoma.

In addition to moles, UV exposure is a major risk factor for melanoma.  It is much less common than other skin cancers, but is responsible for 75 percent of skin cancer deaths, killing about 48,000 people worldwide annually, according to the World Health Organization.  Melanoma deaths account for $3.5 billion in lost productivity every year, according to the CDC.

Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is one of the best methods of prevention against melanoma and other kinds of skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wearing sunglasses, hats and seeking shade during midday hours also helps.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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