There are many smartphone apps currently available which use AI and are intended to help people to identify suspicious moles and help them to decide when to self-refer to a GP. But which app is best?
We have approached the British Association of Dermatologists for advice as they have a working group currently looking into this area. In summary, the evidence supporting these apps is weak and they do not recommend any specific app for use. Their position is that while AI is a rapidly advancing area which holds great promise for the future, the current evidence for effectiveness and safety of apps for diagnosing melanoma is limited. The studies that have been carried out to validate these apps have often been done in artificial conditions (e.g. using images only without any clinical information from a patient) or with limited numbers of people and therefore may not reflect real-life clinical situations. This means there is a clinical and safety concern that these apps may not pick up some melanomas or will incorrectly raise suspicions about completely harmless moles. There is no app available at the moment that is equally as good at detecting a melanoma as it is for ruling out melanoma in all individuals.
If you are interested in further information, here is the link to the statement from BAD.
One of the issues to consider when choosing an app is what the evidence is that underpins the app – and this can sometimes be difficult to find. At the moment the current regulatory systems are being tightened up as they are not as robust as they could be – this means that sometimes apps will claim to have regulatory approvals for a purpose e.g. have a CE mark but this does not necessarily guarantee that there is sufficient evidence to prove that it is a reliable tool to make a melanoma diagnosis.