Can Skin Cancer Apps Be Trusted?


Modern technology has made the early detection of cancer even more possible than ever, increasing the chances of successful treatment and complete recovery. Melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can grow rapidly, sometimes within weeks. Early detection can distinguish between a simple mole removal or cancer spreading to other body parts.

Today, many smartphone apps are available that claim to identify and track cancerous moles and lesions. But do these apps work? And how reliable are they? Below, we will list the popular skin cancer checking apps and assess their effectiveness.

Popular skin cancer checking apps

1) UMSkinCheck

This is a free app developed by the University of Michigan that guides users through a full-body self-skin check. It also allows users to store an entire body photographic library, enabling them to compare and track skin and lesion changes over time.

2) MoleMapper

This app was developed by The Oregon Health & Science University. Like UMSkinCheck, this appallows users to take photos and track measurements of any moles or lesions on their bodies to facilitate change tracking over time.

3) MiiSkin

This app allows users to capture and compare photos for mole-tracking over time. It has an additional paid version that allows users to track large areas of skin. This will allow them to identify new moles and marks they may not have noticed.

4) MoleScope 

Molescope is a high-resolution camera that you can use with many different smartphones. This camera uses high magnification and enhanced lighting to take more detailed and higher-quality photos than other skin cancer checking apps. It has many features such as skin mapping, image management, and regular check-up reminders.

5) SkinVision

This app allows users to identify moles that could become potential skin cancers. It classes each mole as either high risk or low risk and provides expert advice on further steps for high-risk moles.

Are skin cancer apps accurate?

Although skin cancer checking apps facilitate early detection and easy tracking of your moles and skin changes, they risk not identifying problematic moles and lesions accurately. The technology behind skin cancer apps is promising, yet it doesn’t match the human eye’s ability and years of professional experience.

Reports from several trusted sources reveal several downsides to skin checking apps, including; a lack of adequate testing and a shortage of expert input during development. These factors ultimately result in the apps being sometimes inaccurate, leading to a false or delayed diagnosis.

The only way to be sure about your skin’s health is through a skin check performed by you or a professional. Apps offer regular check-up reminders and provide the ability to track mole or skin changes by taking photos.

Tips for self-skin exams

Experts recommend a monthly skin exam. A monthly self-exam allows you to detect new moles and track changes in existing moles.

Conducting a self-exam includes the following steps:

  • Examine your body in a full-length mirror, turning from front to back.
  • Bend your elbows to look at your palms, forearms, underarms, and the spaces between your fingers.
  • Check your thighs, the soles of your feet, and between the toes
  • Use a handheld mirror to examine the back of your neck and scalp, your back and buttocks.

The ABCDE guideline shows signs to look out for during your self-exam.

  • Asymmetry – The halves of melanoma moles don’t match. They are shaped or coloured differently.
  • Border irregularity – Melanomas have an irregular-shaped border that may be blurred, jagged, notched, or scalloped.
  • Colour variation – Melanoma moles contain different colours such as brown or tan mixed with patches of black and sometimes blue, pink, red, or white.
  • Diameter or dark – Melanoma moles usually have a diameter of 1cm or more. They are usually darker than other moles.
  • Evolution or changes in the mole – A mole that rapidly changes in size, shape, or colour should be assessed, especially if it starts to itch or bleed.


No skin cancer checking app is 100% accurate and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for professional consultation from a skin cancer doctor. Ensure to book an annual skin check with a reputable skin cancer clinic such as Skin Clinic Robina, particularly if you have a family history of skin cancer or many moles.