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New app designed for early skin cancer detection

Tony Buser, flickr

Every year, two million people in the United States get diagnosed with skin cancer, and 50,000 of them have melanoma.

Early detection is important for successful treatment, but regularly seeing a dermatologist to monitor skin health can be expensive and inconvenient.

Enter UMSkinCheck. The University of Michigan Medical School debuted the free app earlier this month. Dr. Michael Sabel, an associate professor of surgery at U of M, was the primary physician involved in the project.

In a videoon UofMHealth.org, Sabel explains the motivation behind creating the app:

If melanoma is found and treated in its earliest stages, the chance of cure is excellent. However, if it is not found early, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Once this occurs, it is an extremely difficult cancer to treat. Therefore, finding melanoma early is crucial. Examining your own skin on a regular basis helps find melanoma at the earliest stages, but we know it’s not easy to remember when or how to do self skin examinations. That is why the University of Michigan developed this app to help you perform regular self skin exams.

The app walks users through self skin exams and provides educational material on skin cancer prevention and treatment. The app also has a risk calculator that uses personal data to assess users’ susceptibility to the dangerous disease.

To help users track skin abnormalities over time, the app guides users in a full-body photographic survey, stores the images and sends reminders when it’s time to re-take the 23 photos. Users can then compare the images over time and track any changes in moles or lesions.

UMSkinCheck is designed for iPhones and iPads. It’s available for download at theiTunes Store.

- Suzanne Jacobs, Michigan Radio Newsroom