Smartphone app provides skin cancer early warning service

The makers of a smartphone app are hoping that it could be used to play a crucial role in early detection of skin cancer.

According to the website Digital Trends the app known as SkinVision hopes to act as an early-warning system by allowing users to snap a photo of concerning spots on their skin using a smartphone camera.

Within 30 seconds an AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm delivers a risk assessment – low, low with symptoms, or high.

SkinVision’s algorithm is trained using experience from nearly 132,000 images taken by more than 31,000 users in several countries between January 2016 and August 2018, rated for risk by dermatologists.

The app looks for telltale signs of skin cancer in spots, such as irregular patterns, multiple colours, asymmetry, size and uneven borders.

If the app raises concerns, uses can visit a doctor to get advice on what to do next.

SkinVision has pointed out that the service does not formally provide a diagnosis, but gives a risk assessment.

Nevertheless it pointed out that a study published earlier this month by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology concluded it was around 95% sensitive in its ability to identify the most common forms of skin cancer.

In the peer-reviewed study, researchers tested the sensitivity of the algorithm with 285 validated skin cancer cases, including 138 malignant melanomas, from two previously published clinical studies, and from the app’s user database.

The algorithm scored a 95% sensitivity in detecting premalignant conditions – 93% for malignant melanoma and 97% for keratinoctyte carcinomas and precursors.

However authors concluded that there is work to be done with SkinVision in terms of specifying which type of cancer could be present, which was accurate in around 78% of cases.

Based in the Amsterdam, SkinVision is backed by Denmark’s LEO Pharma, which got involved in the project in 2015.

The company’s LEO Innovation Lab has been closely involved, and SkinVision is one of nine healthcare apps launched in collaboration with external partners.

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