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‘Pocket Doctor’ Helps Detect Skin Cancers

Cell-phone attachment allows patients to monitor suspicious lesions (Apr. 18)

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, are evaluating a small optical device — called a HandyScope — that can turn an iPhone into a skin scanner for cancer detection. The new technology allows individuals to scan their own skin, take photos of suspicious spots, record them in an app, and send the data to health care professionals.

“It is capable of doing really cool things,” said senior research fellow Dr. Monika Janda. “It automatically gets people to hold the iPhone at the right distance to take a clear photo; it has polarized light that goes deeper into the skin to show lesions more clearly; and it has a 20x magnification capacity.

“Then it has an app attached to it, that allows people to mark on a virtual body where the lesion is, and they can send it straight back to a health professional for quick feedback."

Janda said that if the trial shows that the HandyScope is useful and usable by consumers, it would revolutionize health care. Doctors could advise patients to use the device at home, to keep an eye on suspicious skin spots, she said.

Recovering skin-cancer patients who need to visit a specialist every few weeks could use the device to extend the intervals between face-to-face examinations, which would be particularly useful for people living in rural or remote areas, Janda added.

Source: Queensland University of Technology; April 18, 2013.

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