Apps like “Mole Detective” and “Melapp” have claimed to be able to detect a mole’s risk for melanoma or skin cancer by just analyzing a picture, but the companies are under attack from the Federal Trade Commission who say the companies claims are not supported by any scientific evidence, settling lawsuits with some of the developers.
“Even on regular photos it’s hard to tell if it’s a melanoma, if it’s a regular mole, if it is another lesion that’s not a mole at all,” said dermatologist Dr. Diem Wu.
Wu says she thinks the apps are dangerous and that patients shouldn’t rely on an app and pictures to determine if they have skin cancer.
“A delay in diagnosis is sometimes very deadly,” said Wu.
Wu says while pictures can be helpful if you can’t get to a doctor, nothing replaces a personal examination.
“It cannot replace a physician looking at the spot and again I think a lot of it has to do with texture, and touch.”
Wu says patients should always be wary of health claims made by apps, even if they claim to get right most of the time.
“That sounds good but when it’s looking at your health you don’t want to be detecting something 80-90% of the time,” said Wu.