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Posted on Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

iPhone app developed at U-M helps track skin cancer

By Amy Biolchini

A new iPhone application developed at the University of Michigan Health System helps users monitor changes in their skin over time as a self-screening for cancer.

The app, named UMSkinCheck, is free and available for download to iPhones and iPads from iTunes. Just a week after it was released to the market July 10, the app already has broken the top 10 of free apps offered in the "Medical" category.


A screen shot of the UMSkinCheck app, available for free download to iPhones and iPads.

Courtesy of University of Michigan Health System

In doctor’s offices, whole-body photography is used to track patients at risk for melanoma.

“However, it requires a professional photographer, is not always covered by insurance, and can be an inconvenience,” said Dr. Michael Sabel, lead physician in the development of the app and an associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.

“Now that many people have digital cameras on their phones, it’s more feasible to do this at home,” Sabel said in a statement.

The app instructs users to take a series of 23 photos of different parts of their body from head to toe. Photos are stored within the app, which then sends out automated reminders to repeat the self-exam on a regular basis.

Should the mole or skin lesion change or grow, the user would then be able to share them with a dermatologist.

The app also includes a function for users to calculate their individual risk of skin cancer.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.