Screen Yourself for Skin Cancer at Home With Your Phone’s Camera

Twenty-three naked smartphone pictures later

Something like 90 percent of melanomas–the most serious kind of skin cancer–are visible to the naked eye, no MRI, CT scan, or other kind of sophisticated scanning or imaging necessary. So why bother getting screened at a clinic? The University of Michigan has created an iPhone app that allows you to inspect yourself for skin cancer. All you have to do is take 23 nude pictures of yourself with your smartphone.

That, of course, is something we’ve largely been advised not to do, but no bother. UMSkinCheck’s creators think they can help trim health care costs by helping users perform a task that really doesn’t require a doctor, especially for those who are at low risk for skin cancer and are otherwise asymptomatic. To that end, the app offers a risk-assessment quiz, examples of what a troubling skin feature looks like for comparison, and periodic reminders to look yourself over for any signs of cancer.

It’s basically a way to create a whole-body photographic record of your skin periodically so you can see if certain skin features are changing or growing worse over time. And if they are, well, it’s time to ditch the DIY diagnosis and go see the doctor. If it keeps asymptomatic people out of the doctor’s office each and every time they see something slightly troubling it could save money in the long run. Of course, there’s a certain barrier to entry here, that being the 23 pictures. If you want to monitor yourself using UMSkinCheck, be aware: these aren’t photos you can take yourself.

The Atlantic