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Skin Cancer Prevention Goes Mobile with UMSkinCheck App

The phrase “there’s an app for that” now applies to at-home skin cancer detection.

UMSkinCheck, a free iPhone and iPad application from the University of Michigan is designed to help people conduct their own skin checks and keep track of suspicious moles or spots.  The application, released last month, is being touted as a cost-effective and easy to use alternative to professional whole body photography.

The app requires 23 different photos, covering every inch of skin, including places like the soles of the feet, inside the thighs, and the back of the neck.  Most photos will require the user to have a partner take the photos, lining up their body with the red outline provided on the screen.  The nature of the photos will mean that patients will want to use the password protected feature of the application.

Some high risk patients who may be reluctant to store nude photos of themselves on their phone may be persuaded by taking the basic risk assessment on the app.  The assessment asks questions related to age, race, tanning levels, and the amount of freckles on the back.

The app also has the ability to store multiple pictures of a suspicious mole or lesion over time, so that it’s possible to compare any changes in size or color, and to show them to a dermatologist or physician assistant.  Patients can also set up reminders to perform their regular skin checks; the application allows for up to a 90 day frequency.

The app also takes into account that cancerous legions and suspicious moles may be difficult to differentiate from non-cancerous marks and moles.  The app goes over the ABCDs of Melanoma, and also provides photos of different types of skin cancer, including seborrheic keratosis, basal cell, squamous cell, actinic keratosis, and merkel cell carcinoma, giving brief descriptions with each photo.

Skin cancer is usually easily detected by the naked eye, and often the barriers to regular skin checks come from patients themselves.  Perhaps putting user friendly technology into the hands of our patients will help detect dangerous legions earlier, and hopefully save lives.

Download from iTunes store here.

App Requirements: iPhone 3 or higher, iPad 2 or higher, iPod Touch 4th generation or higher, iOS version 4.0 or higher.

Sources: The Atlantic, Medical News Today, Health News Digest