Mobile App Helps with Skin Cancer Screening

Cancer screening just went mobile.

A new free app allows users to create a photographic baseline of their skin and photograph suspicious moles or other skin lesions, walking users step-by-step through a skin self-exam. The app, UMSkinCheck, sends automatic reminders so users can monitor changes to a skin lesion over time, and provides pictures of various types of skin cancers for comparisons.

The app, which was designed by U-M’s skin cancer physicians, is available for iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded on iTunes.

Doctors used to recommend patients visit a professional photographer to document their skin lesions. But, in addition to the hassle, it’s not always covered by insurance. Digital cameras on phones makes it feasible to do this at home. Regular skin checks can help people discover melanoma in its earliest stages.

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.

Everyone should do regular skin self-exams to detect skin cancer at the earliest stages, when treatment is less invasive and more successful. It’s even more important for people at high risk, including those who have:

  • Fair skin
  • Burn easily
  • Past sunburns
  • Used tanning beds
  • Family history of melanoma

Not sure if you’re at high risk of skin cancer? The app includes a risk calculator that allows you to input your personal data to calculate your individual risk.

Watch this video in which Dr. Michael Sabel of the U-M Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic talks about why the app was created and the prevalence of skin cancer.

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