Thanks to new research by IBM, your iPhone’s camera may soon become a tool that can save your life. Now that’s a picture so impressive it doesn’t need a filter.
A study done by the Canadian Cancer Society in 2014 found that although melanoma is one of the ‘most preventable cancers,’ its rate of instances is on the rise, causing over 1,050 deaths per year in Canada. In 2016, Melanoma is projected to cause 10,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, making it the deadliest form of cancer.
In response to the rise of Cancer, IBM and doctors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center are conducting a project they hope will help combat the high instance of advanced or fatal melanoma. Using a device called a dermascope that will attach to a users iPhone, a person can take a picture of the part of their skin that looks questionable and submit it to a database containing images of cancerous skin spots. An IBM computer system will then analyze the user’s picture against the database to evaluate whether it matches any pre-existing cancer skin spot images.
While project development is still ongoing, the IBM team said that they hope the new system will work in conjunction with doctors, who have a number of tools to use when diagnosing Melanoma. Early results from the general public’s use of the dermascope and database have been tested, and will be used as a diagnosing aid by doctors upon release first.
“If you have a lesion, a doctor has a variety of tools to diagnose that lesion. We’re looking to augment [those] with another tool to help catch that disease and to even assist general practitioners to be more helpful for their patients,” said Dr. Noel Codella from the IBM team.
Though the project may eventually become sophisticated enough to be released to the general public, at this point Codella says the main focus is helping doctors diagnose melanoma.
To help prevent melanoma, the Canadian Skin Cancer Society recommends planning outdoor activities before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m. when the UV index is low, staying in the shade when outdoors, wearing sunscreen anywhere that skin is exposed, wearing protective clothing, including hats and avoiding indoor tanning beds and booths. So lather on that sunscreen and protect your skin.