Simple home test to diagnose skin cancer

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: A simple home test to check suspected skin cancer has been unveiled by doctors. For a 40-pound fee, experts will analyse pictures of skin defects sent to a website and e-mail results within a day.

A traffic light system judges the severity of the mole. Red would signify probable malignance, amber to show it could be cancerous and green stands for almost certainly harmless.

Doctors hope the test will lead to earlier diagnosis of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer which affects more than 10,300 a year in Britain alone, the Daily Mail reported.

Warning signs to look out for include a mole which may quickly start to change shape, become darker in colour and grow larger.

Tumours can be treated through surgery as long as they are diagnosed early but once the cancer spreads to other organs it can rarely be cured, with just five percent of patients still alive five years after diagnosis.

Scientists from the Universities of Dublin and Moscow have created the computer program which compares submitted pictures to more than 3,000 photographs of cancerous and non-cancerous moles stored on the system.

Rino Cerio, consultant dermatologist at Barts and the London Cancer Centre, said: "This test is not a substitute for a proper medical consultation but it enables people to check suspect moles in the privacy of their own home."

"If they come back `red` or `amber`, they will know to seek immediate medical attention," he added.

"This innovative technology has the potential to vastly increase early detection, saving thousands of lives that would have otherwise been lost to this very treatable skin cancer," Cerio said.

IANS