DermoScreen diagnoses melanomas with impressive accuracy.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that two in every five Americans will develop skin cancer sometime in their lives, and while it’s the most curable form of cancer when caught early, close to 9,000 people still die from skin cancer each year.
Traditionally, cancer is diagnosed by a pathologist or dermatologist by removing all or part of a suspicious growth and examining the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. That process may soon be replaced by a clever iPhone app called DermoScreen.
The app, developed by George Zouridakis, a professor of engineering technology at the University of Houston, could provide cheap and effective cancer screenings for millions of people who would not otherwise have access to medical specialists. So far the device has shown to be accurate about 85 percent of the time. This accuracy rate is similar to that of dermatologists.
In addition to the software a special magnifying lens, called a dermoscope attachment, is needed to illuminate the skin in a specific way. With that in place, snap a picture of the area in question and the program provides a diagnosis in just a few seconds. In a press release from the University of Houston, Dr. Ana Ciurea, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains:
“Our research with Dr. Zouridakis on his promising iPhone app will focus on evaluating its use for risk assessment and as a screening tool for early detection of melanomas. We are in the early stages of planning and approval for this project, but such an application, if validated, has the potential for widespread use to ultimately improve patient care.”
Following a grant of $412,500 from the National Institutes of Health the DermoScreen app is being improved upon in the hopes that it will also be able to screen for Buruli ulcer, a flesh-eating bacterial disease, in Africa. Though still in the development stage, DermoScreen’s creators hope to bring the concept to commercialization soon.