This App Detects Cancer

July 03, 2014

Advancements in technology never cease to amaze us, but the DermoScreen is a show stopper. The app can scan moles and lesions to detect whether they are likely to become malignant. Its developers at the University of Houston say it has an 85% accuracy rate.

The iOS app, still in testing, is not available on Apple's App Store just yet. The technology relies on a dermoscope magnifying lens attachment and lighting element that will set you back $500. The development team is working to create less expensive lenses. Until then, you're better off going to a dermatologist if you want to investigate a suspicious mole.

The technology may not be ideal for the average consumer, but developers are considering its use in the developing world, where access to medical professionals and specialists is scarce. Before that dream becomes a reality, more work is required. Professor George Zouridakis (who has been working on the cancer-detecting app since 2005) said the team needs to improve the accuracy rate of the technology, and probably decrease the cost, before it will be ideal for the developing world.

The vision is promising and has gained support from both the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (UT) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). UT has agreed to launch a clinical study of DermoScreen. The NIH has provided Zouridakis with a $412,500 grant to see if the app can also detect Buruli ulcer, a flesh-eating bacteria found in sub-Saharan Africa.

The team's vision is for the technology to be successful in the early detection of melanoma. Though the researchers have their work cut out for them, the future is certainly bright.

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