New smartphone app checks for signs of skin cancer
A new smartphone app can help people with moles identify if a little blemish might turn into a big problem at the tap of a screen.
'Doctor Mole' uses augmented reality technology to check moles for irregularities in size, shape, colour and border.
After taking a picture of a mole, the user is presented with a colour-coded 'risk' level for each of these characteristics.
The app can archive and compare data to check for any changes in a mole and will also remind the user when it's time to check a mole again.
Changes in moles are a common sign of malignant melanoma, one of the three main types of skin cancer. Melanoma can also develop in normal-looking skin.
Although less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma causes the majority of deaths from skin cancer. It is mainly caused by exposure to UV rays.
"I have already had 3 basal cell carcinomas removed from my neck, face and back, and at my age this is very rare. So I have pretty much seen first hand the dangers of the sun. That's where the idea for Doctor Mole came from," the Daily Mail quoted Mark Shippen, the developer of Doctor Mole from Australia, as saying.
"I don't have a background in medicine, but when I found my first cancer a few years back I pretty much read everything about it and had a solid understanding of what to look for. Then it was just a simple case of combining the knowledge I had gained with my software development skills, and DoctorMole was created," he said.
Melanoma is especially dangerous if it is not found early. Regular skin checks can help people discover melanoma in its earliest stages, doctors agree.
Doctor Mole isn't the first tool to help smartphone users check for signs of skin cancer. Other apps guide users through self exams, and the German-made 'Handyscope' converts an iPhone into a dermatoscope, which doctors use to look for melanoma.
Mark stresses that his app is not, and will never be a substitute for a real doctor, even though he says quite a few doctors have told him they are using it with their patients.