The ITV News headline grabs attention — but are dermatology apps really endangering the public when teledermatology can help diagnose 88 percent of people with skin cancer and 97 percent of those with benign lesions? A University of Birmingham-led research team did a metastudy of the literature and found three failings: “a lack of rigorous published trials to show they work and are safe, a lack of input during the app development from specialists to identify which lesions are suspicious and flaws in how the technology analyses photos” particularly for scaly or non-pigmented melanomas. But did access to these apps encourage early diagnosis which can lead to up to 100 percent five-year survival? Of course review is required as recommended by the study, but this last factor was not really examined at the British Association of Dermatologists’ annual meeting in Edinburgh. University of Birmingham release with study abstract
It is most encouraging to see that the FTC in the US has reached a settlement with two suppliers of “Melanoma Detection” apps: “In two separate cases, marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective have agreed to settlements that bar them from continuing to make such unsupported claims.” The FTC are pursuing actions against two other companies.
Echoing the requirements also of the EU’s Consumer Protection Directives as applied to health claims (notably the Misleading & Comparative Advertising Directive 2006/114EC), Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said: “Truth in advertising laws apply in the mobile marketplace.” “App developers and marketers must have scientific evidence to support any health or disease claims that they make for their apps.”
What is that spot? A question that many of us have worried over. A skin cancer detection app developed by Los Angeles-based Lūbax is being tested with physicians and dermatologists in the US, Australia and the UK as of 4 February, World Cancer Day. It uses image recognition software and algorithms to search a proprietary dermatology image database of over 12,000 diagnosed lesions. Their initial large melanoma clinical trials with Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and the University of São Paulo showed sensitivity and specificity in detecting large melanomas in patients. According to their website, they are expanding the database and algorithm to include basal and squamous cell carcinomas in addition to amelanotic melanomas. There’s a signup for the clinical trial only for iPhone, but their execs in a news item have met with Samsung. BioSpectrum Asia, release on Biospace.com, startup profile on Gust.com