Most Shared

Health Watch

Health Watch

 
text size

Skin cancer detecting apps no substitute for doctor

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:54 PM CDT
Do you have skin cancer?    
Are you worried about that mole?
Can your cell phone give you the answer?

Channel Three's Lena Deflores takes a look at the new technology and whether or not it works.

Nowadays there's an app for everything.
Games. Movie times. Directions.
So apps that can detect skin cancer, saving you time and money sound appealing.
No doctor. No waiting. No co-pay.
But does it also mean, no accuracy?

"It's not a human checking you out. It's a picture compared to other pictures.
"It's a computer."
"I'd be a little hesitant."

Cherry Hergesheimer has battled skin cancer before.
"I had two removed, first off of the forehead, then one beside my nose."

She's had four carcinomas removed from her face, eventually having to undergo topical chemotherapy on half of her face.
She says he's not sold on apps that say they can diagnose skin cancer.
"Especially if it says that it's not that, because it's too serious."

 And dermatologist, Dr. Kevin Welch, says she's right to be wary.
"It's not enough to flick one f these things on your mole and have an 'oh, it's OK' and forget about it."
"You need to see a physician."

There are more than 40 apps focused on skin cancer self-diagnosis or monitoring.
Most work pretty much the same way.
You take a photo of any moles you might be worried about.
The app uses algorithms to find if a mole has turned into a melanoma by analyzing the mole's symmetry, color and shape.
But does it work?

"It's a helpful diagnostic tool if it tells you its dangerous, but it's not a reliable tool if it tells you it's not."

You can't really take that to the bank."

A study by the University of Pittsburgh medical center found the apps misdiagnosed 30 percent of melanomas as non cancerous.

The study also found the apps only gave the correct diagnosis an average of 33 to 42 percent of the time.
Dr. Welch says that's dangerous.
"One of those three people is getting a wrong answer. Potentially, a life threatening wrong answer."

But there are aspects of these apps that Dr. Welch says are helpful.
"It does photo document your body to see if there are new or changing moles and that is very beneficial for a doctor, potentially."

But still, Cherry prefers a personal check-up.
"They check me over from head to toe, in my hair."
"Behind my ears, the tops of my feet..."

All of the apps Channel Three News looked at had disclaimers that the apps are for education and you shouldn't rely on the apps above professional medical advice and Dr. Welch agrees.
"You are much better served to see your dermatologist.">>

Dr. Welch also had some reminders as you enjoy our Florida sun.
Wear an SPF 30 sunscreen and reapply it often.
Every two hours is a good rule of thumb.
And if you're swimming, you should reapply that sunscreen every time you get out of the water.

Skin cancer detecting apps no substitute for doctor


Advertise with us!

Related Stories

ABC National Health News

Baby Can’t Open Mouth in Medical Mystery
The Scott family started a website to find out what's wrong with baby Wyatt.
New Bill Aims to Curb Overzealous Photoshopping
Could this mark an end to overzealous photoshopping of models?
Ohio Soccer Player Is Dangerously 'Allergic' to Her Own Sweat
By the time Caitlin McComish was back in fall training at University of Toledo, she had gone into shock 17 times, always near the soccer field. She missed more than a month of school and couldn't leave her apartment.
NJ Mumps Victims Were Vaccinated, Officials Say
At least eight students have contacted the virus.
Couple Applauds FDA Warning Against Hysterectomy Procedure
The FDA warns common surgical technique could lead to dangerous spread of cancer cells.
Conjoined Twins See Sunlight For the First Time
They were finally able to go outside, seven months after surgery.
Dying Boy Who Got Unapproved Drug Leaves Hospital
Josh Hardy was dying last month, but has now left the hospital.
Group Grieving May Help Families Through South Korea Ferry Disaster
Heart-wrenching photos of families mourning loved ones lost in a South Korean ferry disaster capture what some experts say is a helpful process: group grieving.
Paralyzed Veteran Walks Again With Exo-Skeleton
An explosion paralyzed Kevin Ogilvie while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.
School Flier Counsels Kids Not to Rat Out Bullies
The school has apologized for passing out the ill-advised flier.
Grieving Widow, Widower Discover Love Again on Internet Forum
"Marisa93" and "Jim C." who are engaged and have been living together in Miamisburg, Ohio, met on the website GRACE (Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education), while their grief was still raw.
UK Doctor: 'I'd Rather Have HIV Than Diabetes'
UK doctor draws controversy after penning op-ed comparing HIV to diabetes.
Digital Mirror Shows Users Their Internal Organs
Mirror may some day help patients prepare for surgery.
No Shots, No School Amid Ohio Mumps Outbreak
At least 224 people in Franklin and Delaware counties have contracted the virus.
Lab Loses Thousands of Vials of Deadly SARS Virus
Vials containing SARS fragments not dangerous, but hint at vulnerability.
Why Your Spouse May Be 'Hangry' for a Fight
The link between marital discord and hunger pangs.
Dangers of Vaccine Hesitancy Explained in 10 Tweets
Many parents hesitate to vaccinate their children because of safety concerns.
Watch: Scientists Engineer Lab-Grown Vaginas
Four women with a genetic condition took part in a ground-breaking study.
Watch: Baby Can't Open Mouth in Medical Mystery
Video shows doctors assessing Wyatt Scott's ability to swallow.
Watch: 8 Mumps Cases Reported at NJ College
Stevens Institute of Technology reports eight cases despite students having been fully vaccinated.
Watch: Digital Mirror Reveals Internal Organs
3D installation creates what your body might look like on the inside.
3 High-Tech Diets That Work
Experts say that dieters who include apps in their weight-loss efforts score greater success than those who don't. We asked three Health readers to each test a leading digital diet and report back.
5 Steps to Avoid Getting 'Hangry'
Your energy is zapped, your stomach is rumbling, and your personality has transformed from level-headed and sweet to short-tempered and snippy. Your hunger has led to anger: You’re officially hangry. We’ve all been there, and it’s not pretty, but fortunately—for the sake of your relationships and social life—it can be avoided. Here are five rules for thwarting hunger-induced crankiness, and the binge that often follows.
9 Real Solutions for Seasonal Allergies
To find solutions that actually work, we scoured the latest research. Here's what we found.
6 Food Labels That Don't Mean What You Think They Do
Misunderstanding these labels could be sabotaging your health.
 

Enrollment for healthcare exchanges as part of healthcare reform begins October 1 in states where exchanges will be set up. Expect special reports each week from us about what you need to know about 'Obamacare' and the ongoing political fight about its future.

To Learn More About Health Care Reform, Click Here

Navigation

Sacred Heart Health System - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Cardiology - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Cancer Center - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Sacred Heart Orthopedics - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Coastal Vein Institute - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
The Endoscopy Center - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Coastal Vascular & Interventional - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Stand Up Open MRI - Health Watch - WEAR ABC Channel 3
Advertise with us!

Tonight on ABC 3

05:30PM Channel 3 News
06:00PM An ABC Special Presentation: "The Ten Commandments"
10:45PM Channel 3 News

Complete ABC 3 Schedule