An awesome new app is out from the University of Michigan, and guess what it can do? Help you assess your risk of skin cancer…for free! Maybe that doesn’t seem exclamation-point worthy to you, but I think UMSkinCheck is totally cool, not to mention useful. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States; researchers estimate that one in five (hold up, I need more exclamation points. !!!!!!!!!) people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. This new skin cancer app is especially good for uninsured people, as it helps you assess your risk without having to go to a doctor for a check-up.
The app seems pretty thorough to me; you conduct a full-body photographic survey on yourself, by taking 23 different pictures of the skin on your entire form. If you do identify something that looks suspicious, you can track it over time, saving the visual information in the app so you can go back and see how the mole/lesion looks three months, six months, or even years ago. Warning: the pictures you take will involve some “private” parts of your body. Password protection for the app is available, though, in case nosy people like to poke around your phone when you’re not looking.
UMSkinCheck also provides an information section that includes sunscreen tips, characteristics of melanoma and pictures of common skin lesions (including non-cancerous ones). There are links and FAQs about melanoma and skin cancer prevention, too. And the app features a step-by-step guide to doing a full skin-cancer self exam. If you don’t have health insurance, the app could be (literally) a life-saver, as it might help you monitor yourself without having to pay out-of-pocket to visit a doctor (of course, if you DO find a risk factor, you’d have to see your doctor, but hopefully you saved some money beforehand.)
I have olive skin that tans easily, but I’ve suffered more than a few sunburns in my life, so I know I have a skin cancer risk. I’ve also known more than a few women my age (and younger) who have had skin cancer. They’ve all recovered, thankfully, but skin cancer is way more common than I realized when I was laying out in my backyard, slathered with Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil during high school. I wear sunscreen regularly now, but there are a few moles and spots I’m a little concerned about. Not to mention that I haven’t been to a dermatologist in wayyyyyy too long. I’m definitely going to take advantage of this app. I’m going to do the full-body survey later today, in fact.
So far the app is only available through iTunes, for iPhone, iPad and iPod. What do you think of UMSkinCheck? Have you used it? Would you?
Photo: iTunes Store