Nobody wants skin cancer. Nobody wants cancer — period. But you can't beat cancer if you don't know if you have it or not. Fortunately, there's an app that can detect if you have skin cancer or not.
DermoScreen is an iPhone app by a George Zouridakis, a professor of engineering technology at the University of Houston, that's been in development since 2005. The app is about as simple as you can imagine: in conjunction with a dermoscope attachment, you take a pic of your skin (a mole, lesion, etc.), and the software will tell you if you might have skin cancer within seconds.
The app has an 85 percent accuracy rate according to Zouridakis, which is on par with what a biopsy will give you. Sure, the dermoscope itself is a hefty $500 add-on, but the peace of mind you'll have knowing if that brown mole with the hair growing out of it is actually cancerous or not makes it worth it.
This isn't the first time we've seen a cancer-detecting iPhone gizmo. Back in 2011, Harvard and MIT scientists developed a $200 handheld scanner that used antibodies and magnetic particles extracted from a patient to test for cancer cells. The scanner had a 96 percent accuracy rate, but it also took about an hour to get results. The DermoScreen app only takes seconds. However, it is limited to scanning for melanomas.
The promise of cancer-detecting gizmos has the potential to give millions of people a way to detect early signs of multiplying skin cells. The biggest problem with cancer is that so many people don't even know they have it until its too late. Zouridakis has been given a $412,500 grant to explore other uses for his cancer-sniffing app. In the future, it could screen for Buruli ulcer a bacterial disease that eats your flesh.
Or you can just lock yourself indoors like a vampire and avoid skin cancer altogether. Yeah, that'll work…