Study: Most Skin-Cancer Apps Unreliable

January 23, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh studied four smartphone apps that evaluate melanoma by analyzing images submitted by the users. One app works by having a board-certified dermatologist look at the photos, while the other three apps analyze the images by computer algorithm. The best-performing of the computer-driven apps missed 30 percent of the melanoma cases, while the worst-performing missed 93 percent. The app that used actual physicians to diagnose the melanomas worked well, correctly identifying more than 98 percent of the submitted images. Laura Ferris was the study's lead researcher. The findings were published online January 16 in JAMA Dermatology, and the study did not identify the apps by name.

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