Posted on: 5 February 2015Share
About 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the United States each year, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. In fact, in the past 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other kinds of cancer combined. Skin cancer, unlike most other types of cancer, is preventable by using sunscreen, limiting sun exposure and staying away from tanning beds. Visiting your dermatologist regularly is a key component of skin cancer prevention, but certain smartphone apps might help reduce your risk, as well. Keep in mind, however, that these apps should never replace your biannual or annual dermatologist appointments.
How the Apps Work
Most smartphone apps designed to decrease your risk of skin cancer require you to take photographs of your skin, including any moles or marks you have, and upload them to the app. Some apps provide information about the risk of skin cancer based on the appearance of the moles while others allow you to send pictures to dermatologists who will provide more information, including whether you need to make an appointment. If you're considering using a skin cancer app, choose one that allows you to send images to a doctor because these tend to be the most accurate and beneficial.
Benefits of the Apps
One of the primary benefits of smartphone apps designed to detect possible skin cancer, is that it gets people thinking about and paying attention to their skin. For example, if a consumer downloads one of the apps and takes careful photos of the skin, including moles and marks, that person has a more accurate picture of skin condition than someone who doesn't pay attention to marks on the skin. The apps that allow consumers to send images of their skin to a dermatologist can help diagnose potential problems, especially in people who can't afford or are scared to go to the doctor.
Potential Drawbacks of the Apps
Consumers shouldn't rely on smartphone technology to take control of their health. While the apps can certainly help, one drawback is that some people might rely solely on the apps for their health care rather than seeing a doctor on a regular basis. Another potential drawback is that some apps might inaccurately diagnose a mark as benign when it's, in fact, malignant or diagnose one as malignant when it's really nothing to worry about. An app that tells a patient that their skin is healthy and that they have no worrisome moles might lead to delay of treatment when there is actually a problem.