Apps Aim to Detect Skin Cancer

Published on January 16, 2013
by Christopher Weaver

Smartphone apps are inching onto the turf of doctors and medical-device makers, promising to measure heart rates, display X-ray images and detect skin cancer — and prompting concerns about how well they work and whether consumers may rely on their smartphones and skip seeing a doctor.

The accuracy of such apps can vary significantly, according to a new study published Wednesday. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center evaluated four smartphone apps meant to determine whether moles have morphed into cancerous melanomas. The best-performing app accurately identified cancerous moles 98.1 percent of the time, while the worst picked them up only 6.8 percent of the time, according to the study.

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