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    App tracks mole images to compare over time

    Akron, Ohio, dermatologist Gary Lichten, M.D., has developed a downloadable smart phone application that helps patients monitor their moles and other skin problems. The app, he told Dermatology Times, can be used to complement dermatologists’ surveillance of melanoma and more.

    Launched in August 2015 and available on iTunes for $1.99, the MoleMapperPlus app helps users capture total body or individual nevi images and, in time, compare those images side-by-side or as an overlay. Patients and their dermatologists can also use the app for closer monitoring of how inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis, might be responding to treatment or how an ulcer is healing.

    MoleMapperPlus is a technology for consumers, and images can be emailed, but it is not recommended unless through a secure network. Dermatologists, he says, use the technology to help patients avoid unnecessary biopsies and detect what could be skin cancer earlier than with skin exams, office-based technologies and follow-ups. Dermatologists, for example, can follow the image of a nevus taken on a patient’s smart phone with dermoscopy, or use it as a record of areas biopsied.

    “How often does a question arise as to the original location of the biopsy site?” Dr. Lichten says.

    The need

    There is a need for easy-to-use, convenient mole mapping technology, given that dermatologists might not always take the needed photographs of patients at risk for skin cancer and the documented overuse of biopsies.

    “The truth is, in private practice, generally speaking, dermatologists don’t take enough photographs. Taking photos is invaluable,” Dr. Lichten says.

    Mole mapping and sequential serial dermatoscopic images in high-risk skin cancer patients work and are critical, according to a study published August 2014 in JAMA Dermatology. Researchers studied the impact of full-body examinations every six months, supported by dermoscopy and total-body photography, as well as sequential digital dermoscopy imaging, when indicated, on primary melanoma detection in 311 extreme-risk patients. Among the 75 primary melanomas they detected in an average 3.5 years of follow-up, 38% were found using total-body photography and 39% with sequential digital dermoscopy imaging.

    “Hypervigilance for difficult-to-detect thick melanoma subtypes is crucial,” according to the study authors.[1]

    NEXT: Putting the app to practice

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

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