London: Apart from proving many other functions, your phone can now be your e-doctor as well, thanks to a new free iPhone app.Developed at the University of Michigan Health System, the new free app allows users to use their phone’s camera to check for early signs of skin cancer.It works by creating a photographic baseline of their skin, a newspaper reported.Should suspicious moles or other skin lesions be spotted, the app can walk users through a self exam.Called UMSkinCheck, it even sends automatic reminders so users can monitor changes to a skin lesion over time.The app also provides pictures of various types of skin cancers for comparisons.“Whole body photography is a well-established resource for following patients at risk for melanoma,” said Michael Sabel, associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School, who was the lead doctor involved in developing the app.“However, it requires a professional photographer, is not always covered by insurance, and can be an inconvenience.“Now that many people have digital cameras on their phones, it’s more feasible to do this at home,” he added.Regular skin checks can help people discover melanoma in its earliest stages, doctors agree.The app, a collaboration of the University of Michigan’s technology and clinical expertise, guides users through a series of 23 photos, covering the body from head to toe.Photos are stored within the app and serve as a baseline for future comparisons.If a mole appears to be changing or growing, the photos can then be shared with a dermatologist to help determine whether a biopsy is necessary.“We recommend skin self-exams for everyone in order to detect skin cancer at the earliest stages, when treatment is less invasive and more successful,” said Sabel.“If you have fair skin or burn easily, have had sunburns in the past or used tanning beds, or have a family history of melanoma, you are considered high-risk, and so it’s even more important,” he added.
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