Teenagers have a long list of concerns in their daily lives. What’s likely not high on that list: their risk for skin cancer. But research suggests young adulthood is precisely the age to be most cautious against sun damage and sunburns, which can result in a higher likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life.
Recent research shows an encouraging downward trend in the use of indoor tanning beds among young adults. Still, parents might want to continue to cultivate healthy skin habits in their children.
Short of reminding your kids to apply sunscreen or stay out of the sun, consider a method that might empower them to take their skincare into their own hands – literally. Skin cancer tracking apps are one way to do exactly that. These apps claim to analyze skin, help keep track of changes, notify your doctor of suspicious moles or
Since many of these apps require taking photos of skin lesions, and some prompt users to perform regular self-checks, it could serve as not only a reminder for your teen to keep an eye out, but also as a way to encourage them to take more responsibility for their health.
A word of caution
Studies have not yet proven these apps to be completely effective and reliable. Some even warn they can give a false sense of security and cause users to feel less inclined to visit their doctors for early detection. So these apps shouldn’t be used as stand-in tools for proper medical evaluations.
“I wouldn’t recommend patients avoid these apps, but I would approach their results with cautious skepticism,” Dr. Daniel Friedmann, a dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas, said in an interview with CNET.
Speak to your children of this possible drawback relay it’s not a replacement for true doctor care. The idea here is to help them make skin health care a habit, and to avoid behavior that could lead to damage.
Below are four skin cancer tracking apps worth considering.
Created by researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) School of M
Most usefully, UMSkinCheck allows users to track a history of moles, growths
Miiskin uses mole mapping, similar to the full body skin exam dermatologists perform using digital dermoscopy, or magnified digital photography. The app puts a similar technology in the user’s hands. It takes magnified photos of large areas of skin, like the leg or back, and saves them in a smartphone album. This album is separate from your regular camera roll and allows you to easily compare moles and skin conditions over time.
MoleScope is an add-on device from the maker of MetaOptima, a supplier of clinical dermatology technology. Similar to the MiiSkin, it uses magnified photography to analyze suspicious moles. The difference — you can only zoom in on small areas at a time.
MoleScope analyzes existing moles using the ABCD method employed by dermatologists: Asymmetry, border, color, and diameter, and sends questionable photos to a dermatologist for an online checkup.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, but can almost always be treated if caught early, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. SkinVision was developed to aid in the early detection of this type of cancer using deep learning technology.
Here’s how it works: You take a photo and the app runs it through a machine-learning algorithm. A technology called convolutional neural network filters the image layers using simple, complex, and more abstract functions and patterns. The app then provides a high or low risk assessment of any small area in a matter of several seconds.
Although SkinVision is backed by a scientific board of dermatologists, a study of the app showed only an 81 percent accuracy in detecting melanoma. In comparison, in-clinic exams have an 88% accuracy rate.