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MelApp checks for skin cancer, tracks moles

When good moles go bad, the iOS app can help determine your risk for melanoma. The app uses photos of your moles, and a risk assessment process, to give you a heads-up about your cancer chances.

MelApp risk assessment
Sometimes a mole isn't just a mole.
Health Discovery Corporation

You may not have thought of using your iPhone to catalog your moles and freckles, but Health Discovery Corporation has. The company is the developer behind MelApp, a $1.99 iOS app that gives you a risk assessment for melanoma on your skin.

According to the American Melanoma Foundation, one American dies of melanoma every hour. It's worthwhile to dedicate a little time to watching your moles.

Here's the process. Take a picture of a suspicious mole with your camera. Label it, mark the diameter, and indicate how fast the mole's evolution has been. Click on the "Check Risk" button.

The image is uploaded to a server and run through an image analysis risk assessment process. According to the app's developer, MelApp has been validated using an image database licensed from John Hopkins University Medical Center.

MelApp comes back with a high- or low-risk diagnosis based on five parameters ranging from mole asymmetry to rate of evolution. A self-assessment feature can help verify the app's findings.

Using MelApp can be a bit tricky. Depending on the location, moles can be hard to self-photograph, so you might need an intrepid buddy to help out. The iPad's low-quality still camera adds to to the difficulty. You're better off using an iPhone.

As multiple warnings throughout the app remind you, this is isn't a substitute for a trained medical professional. As with any cancer, early detection of melanoma is key to treatment. If MelApp helps to get people to the doctor, it will have earned its $1.99 keep.