Skin cancer is a growing public health problem. Early and accurate detection is important, since prognosis and cost of treatment are highly dependent on cancer stage at detection. However, access to specialized health care professionals is not always straightforward, and population screening programs are unlikely to become implemented. Furthermore, there is a wide margin for improving the efficiency of skin cancer diagnostics. Specifically, the diagnostic accuracy of general practitioners and family physicians in differentiating benign and malignant skin tumors is relatively low. Both access to care and diagnostic accuracy fuel interest in developing smartphone apps equipped with algorithms for image analyses of suspicious lesions to detect skin cancer. Based on a recent review, seven smartphone apps claim to perform image analysis for skin cancer detection, but as of October 2018, only three seemed to be active. These apps have been criticized in the past due to their lack of diagnostic accuracy. Here, we review the development of the SkinVision smartphone app, which has more than 900,000 users worldwide. The latest version of the SkinVision app (October 2018) has a 95% sensitivity (78% specificity) for detection of skin cancer. The current accuracy of the algorithm may warrant the use of this app as an aid by lay users or general practitioners. Nonetheless, for mobile health apps to become broadly accepted, further research is needed on their health impact on the health system and the user population. Ultimately, mobile health apps could become a powerful tool to reduce health care costs related to skin cancer management and minimize the morbidity of skin cancer in the population.

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Journal of Medical Internet Research
Department of Dermatology

de Carvalho Delgado Marques, T., Noels, E. (Eline), Wakkee, M., Udrea, A. (Andreea), & Nijsten, T. (2019). Development of smartphone apps for skin cancer risk assessment: Progress and promise. Journal of Medical Internet Research (Vol. 21). doi:10.2196/13376