A New Medical App May Help Detect Early Skin Cancer

There’s no doubt about it, mobile cell phone apps have completely changed the way we live. For some, these apps help grow productivity, for others perhaps the reverse is true (think about the Angry Birds phenomenon for example). Recently however the emergence of the  medical field in the app arena has proven just how useful these bits of technology can be.


For most, screening for skin cancer requires a trip to the doctor and an extensive exam but with the help of the new iPhone MelApp,  it seems you could detect the early warning signs from your own home. This is particularly useful for between-office-visit self exams. With skin cancer being one of the fastest growing types of cancer, when it comes to detection, one can never be too cautious.


This new application, launched recently by the Health Discovery Corporation, works by warning users if certain moles or marks on the skin have the chance of becoming cancerous. Users simply buy and download the app and then can begin taking photos of areas on the skin that they may want to monitor, a mole that has changed color or shape or a freckle that doesn’t look quite right.


So how exactly does it work?
Snap the photo and then zoom it to fit into the outlined box in the app. The mole size is then identified and with a simple touch of the “check risk” button you receive an analysis based on the photo which will tell you what level of risk you are at – low, medium or high. By keeping these photos on file, it also allows you to look back and see if your skin lesions have changed at all with time, often an indicator that cancer may be developing.


MelApp is just one of the many similar type iPhone apps that have been popping up lately, skinscan is another that has similar usability.


Additionally, a similarly designed invention called the ‘Handyscope’ is actually an attachable device that, when hooked up to the iPhone, acts as a dermatascope which is what doctors use in their offices to detect skin cancer. This high-tech device uses polarising light which can determine if a mole is malignant. For this scope, the images are captured and then can be sent to a dermatologist to help diagnose early cancer. In order to use this German-based device, the scope can be purchased through the firm called FotoFinder and the accompanying app can be downloaded.


Should we all rely on this new technology for detection?
While new advancements, like the apps mentioned here, are great additions to our normal preventative healthcare measures, they should likely serve as just that – additions. While it is important to still speak with an actual doctor, apps like these can help ease our minds, or notify us of a problem, in between office visits. For those with a family history of melanoma or with constant exposure to the sun, early detection is key and perhaps apps like these will prove to be life savers for the many who are beginning to take advantage of them.


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