Mobile Apps for Skin Cancer Screenings

 In Dermatologist, Skin Cancer

If you aren’t worried about skin cancer yet, you probably should be. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and nearly two million Americans will be diagnosed this year. Unfortunately, most Americans do not realize just how common skin cancer really is, which is why Dermatologists are working hard to raise awareness.

Mobile Solutions to Skin Cancer

To encourage tech-savvy Americans to protect their skin, the University of Michigan has designed a mobile application called UM Skin Check. This app allows users to take photos of questionable moles, freckles or skin lesions. The concept behind this is to help users and their doctors track critical changes that aren’t usually noticed over time.

Warning signs of skin cancer are often identified using the A-B-C-D-E method:

  • Asymmetrical differences
  • Border irregularities
  • Color changes
  • Diameter changes
  • Evolution in size, shape or color

According Tace Rico, a dermatologist who regularly uses her UM Skin Check, regular self-screenings are essential for detecting and managing the occurrence of skin cancer.

“It will give you a little alarm saying it’s time to do a self-skin check. So it’s just like doing your own breast cancer screenings at home. All of those things we should be doing our own self skin screenings at home,” said Rico.

The app also allows users to take pictures from different angles and positions, which is the best way to detect new lesions.

“What we find with melanoma is most of the time is they rise, kind of ‘de novo,’ from a new area of skin not from a previous nevi, so that’s really important to look at your full body and see if there are new lesions rising,” Rico said.

Mobile Apps Not a Substitute for Medical Care

The UM Skin Check application (and other mobile solutions like it) is a great tool for patients concerned about their health, but it’s important to remember that it can’t replace regular medical care.

“It is different and I think it’s made more as a companion to dermatology so it’s not going to replace going to your dermatologist, of course, but it will help you manage your own skincare at home,” explained Rico.

Watch Dr. Michael Sable from the University of Michigan Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic discuss melanoma and the importance of skin cancer self-exam below.


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