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Screen yourself for skin cancer with this free iOS app

The UMSkinCheck app prompts users to take 23 photos that cover the entire body and act as a baseline for future photos that can be sent to dermatologists.

University of Michigan

Got a new mole? A bad sunburn? A family member with a skin cancer diagnosis?

UMSkinCheck, a free new app for iPhone and iPad developed at the University of Michigan, includes a risk calculator that will help you determine your individual risk. If you have any concern at all, it guides you through taking a series of 23 photos that cover your entire body to develop a baseline for future photo comparisons.

"Whole body photography is a well-established resource for following patients at risk for melanoma," Michael Sabel, lead physician in app development and associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School, said in a school news release.

"However, it requires a professional photographer, is not always covered by insurance, and can be an inconvenience. Now that many people have digital cameras on their phones, it's more feasible to do this at home."

With 2 million Americans diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every year, it is the most common cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In fact, one in five Americans develop skin cancer at some point.

Because regular skin checks play a key role in finding skin cancer early, tracking subtle changes is key. But it's also, at least for me, a bit like backing up your hard drive -- you know should do it, and you remind yourself to check it off the to-do list regularly, but manage to keep putting it off.

The UMSkinCheck app makes it convenient to first establish a baseline and then, with built-in reminders, stay on top of regular self exams. And it's free. So if you've got an iPhone or iPad, this is one of those veggie apps -- it's just plain good for you.