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November 14, 2016 / molehunter

Another melanoma detection app

Just heard of yet another mobile phone based app for early detection of skin cancer. This one depends on sending an image of suspicious moles to a trained dermatologist.



I have heard of something similar being trialed in Britain.

One issue with apps like this is the whole skin isn’t evaluated, another is that an on line dermatologist is likely to be very anxious about saying ‘Yeah, nothing to worry about’ (and risk getting sued if it works out bad) on the basis of an imperfectly focused or badly lit image, so will say ‘better come along to make sure’.

I’m not against this sort of thing, but it seems to me to just say that our regular health care professionals aren’t well enough trained. If we find a suspicious, new or changing mole, we ought to be able to have easy access to a Primary Care clinician who can adequately triage the mole or spot as harmless or suspicious, and then quickly move the suspicious on to a specialist..

This ought to be routine, then we wouldn’t need short cuts and technological gimmicks.







Leave a Comment
  1. Maddy / Nov 15 2016 11:58 am

    I agree, I can’t see a place for this without being able to look at the rest of the skin, to compare that patients usual moles, or to look for other areas of sun damage, as I often find other lesions.

  2. Andy / Nov 15 2016 12:31 pm

    Also, instead of paying for apps, can’t we just photograph our moles every couple of months for free and watch for change?

    • molehunter / Jan 7 2017 10:03 am

      Quite so. This is the principle at the heart of all mole monitoring. World experts like Scott Menzies in Australia and Harald Kittler in Vienna have shown that if you photograph the whole skin of high risk patients (i.e. people who have already had 2 or 3 melanomas and have 100+ moles) and observe their skin against the photographs, new melanomas are detected at a very early stage. There is as yet no evidence this is of benefit in people with a normal risk, but since photography is now so easy and cheap, I am suggesting patients consider photographing their own skin and doing a simple ‘spot the difference’ check with the photos every 3 months. It can’t do any harm and may do some good.

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