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

How the US Government Could Evacuate Americans With Ebola
See the "plastic tent" in a plane that could fly infected Americans out of Africa.
Why 6 Seconds of Exercise Can Be as Worthwhile as 90 Minutes
When it comes to exercise, even a little can go a long way.
Warm Water Sparks Flesh-Eating Disease Warning in Florida
Florida health officials are warning beachgoers about a seawater bacterium that can invade cuts and scrapes and cause flesh-eating disease.
Aid Group Evacuates Workers From West Africa Amid Ebola Outbreak
The aid group Samaritan's Purse is pulling nonessential personnel out of West Africa after two workers contracted Ebola.
Ebola, Spreading in Africa, Could Land in US
An Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could land in the U.S., health officials said.
Top Sierra Leone Doctor Dies of Ebola
Dr. Shek Umar contracted the virus while helping others.
Generation of Tanners See Spike in Deadly Melanoma
Surgeon General: Skin cancer rates spike after generation of sunbathing, tanning beds
Fist Bumps Less Germy Than Handshakes, Study Says
Maybe athletes and President Obama are on to something.
What We Don’t Know About Lethal Injection Drugs
Drug doses and suppliers are sometimes kept secret, experts say.
Fear of Flying Amplified by Flurry of Air Disasters
Experts say flying can be 'perfect storm' for phobias.
Cards, and Love, Keep Pouring In for Little Boy Battling Cancer
Over 15,000 cards have been mailed to Danny Nickerson, the five-year-old battling cancer who is turning six tomorrow.
Report Raises Safety Questions on Popular Blood Thinner
Pradaxa has been linked to bleeding complications.
Why It was Easier to Sleep in the Stone Age
You might sleep better on a “Stone Age� settlement, researchers say.
5 Things That Make You a Mosquito Magnet
You might want to rethink that backyard beer.
Baby Who Can't Open Mouth Celebrates First Birthday
Baby Wyatt still can't open his mouth despite WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com responses.
Which Diet Gives the Best Bang for Your Buck?
A new study reveals how to lose more weight for less cash.
Cancer Lessons I Learned From a Fictional Teenage Boy
That love scene from "The Fault in Our Stars" is so intense.
How Hotter Summers Are Putting Swimmers at Risk
As families flock to pools and lakes to cool off, experts are warning about a risky consequence of climate change: waterborne disease.
Watch: 25 New Cases of Chikungunya in New Jersey
New Jersey residents who just returned from travel in the Caribbean reportedly have brought back the mosquito-carried virus.
Watch: NCAA Settles Class-Action Head Injury Lawsuit
The NCAA will create a $70 million fund to diagnose athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma while playing contact sports.
Watch: American Doctor Undergoing Treatment After Testing Positive for Ebola
Dr. Kent Brantly came into contact with the deadly virus while treating Ebola patients in Liberia.
Watch: Sierra Leone's Chief Ebola Doctor Catches the Virus
The latest victim in the fight against the deadly virus in West Africa is the man leading the fight.
7 Odd Reasons You Bruise Easily
There are plenty of reasons for easy bruising, the discoloration caused by a trauma that ruptured blood vessels just under the skin. Check out the surprising explanations behind your sore spots and learn which ones are harmless and which ones need attention.
11 Foods That Make You Hungrier
Feeling hungry? You should eat. But what if the foods you're eating actually make you hungrier than you were before you dug in? It's a more common conundrum than you might think.
14 Ways to Fight Hair Loss
Just because thinning is natural doesn't mean you have to accept it.
7 Subtle Signs You’re Drinking Too Much
How can you tell if you’re developing a problem? Not all the clues are the same for all people, but here are common signs you could be headed for trouble—and how to turn it around.
 

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

06:30PM Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
07:00PM The Middle
07:30PM The Goldbergs
08:00PM Modern Family
08:31PM The Goldbergs
09:00PM Motive
10:00PM Channel 3 News

Complete ABC 3 Schedule