The app, called DermoScreen, is still in its early testing phases.
Developed by George Zouridakis, professor engineering technology at the University of Houston, the app works with a $US500 dermoscope attachment and a special magnifying lens.
Once the dermoscope and attachment capture an image, the app analyses whether or not any cancerous material is present. Early testing has found the device to be accurate 85% of the time, which the University of Houston says is a higher accuracy rate than primary care physicians. It’s also similar to the accuracy rate for dermatologists.
The goal is to provide a quick and inexpensive means of detecting melanoma in rural or developing areas, especially in places where special medical care isn’t readily available.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. If it’s diagnosed and treated early, it’s almost always curable. If not, however, the cancer can spread to other areas of the body where it can become more difficult to treat.
The American Cancer Society predicted in January that about 76,100 new melanoma cases would be diagnosed in the United States during 2014. The rates of melanoma in the US have been rising for at least 30 years.
Zouridakis’ DermoScreen app is now being evaluated for further testing at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The project is still in its early stages, but investors began expressing interest in the idea last year.
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