Indian students develop mobile app that detects skin cancer

Mobile technology has dramatically transformed the way we live and work. Mobile applications are fast becoming the preferred way for people to communicate and share things with their friends and colleagues. But that’s not all. The healthcare industry around the world is now embracing the mobile technology to manage ailments like diabetes and skin cancer.

Recently, researchers in UK unveiled a new approach to diabetes management, based around an innovative personal health monitoring system that uses a medical sensor, smartphone, and cloud internet technology to record real-time blood sugar measurements.

Now, a team of four students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur claim to have developed a mobile phone app that detects skin cancer and related abnormalities.

The team led by research scholar Debdoot Sheet says their mobile app can help physicians diagnose skin cancer quickly and accurately. The innovative mobile app, ‘ClipOCam-Derma’, can assist clinicians perform fast and accurate diagnosis of skin cancers allowing them to handle more patients within a less time, the team asserts.

ClipOCam-Derma can be used on any smartphone. Along with the app, the phone requires a clip-on device to be attached to it. A colourful flash attached to this device illuminates the patient’s skin while the handset camera takes a sequence of images.

These images are then uploaded from the phone to the cloud-based computational imaging service and are subsequently processed to deliver consolidated diagnostic information, which paramedics further assess to determine potential nature and risk of lesions.

“Being a portable and affordable solution, it can be used by trained health care workers to reach out to elderly and patients in mobility restricted areas for health care delivery,” Sheet said in a statement to Press Trust of India (PTI).

The mobile app, its developers say, is so simple to operate that it can be used by semi-skilled paramedics working in rural and primary healthcare centres.

“This in effect will facilitate high-throughput screening of patients at resource constrained or remotely located healthcare centers lacking even minimal access to expert physicians, but witnessing an exponential rise in deaths related to complex skin abnormalities,” Sheet told PTI.

A range of skin abnormalities like cancers, ulcers, psoriasis, melanoma, scaling, keratinisation, inflammation, lipoma, healing and non-healing wounds, and heavy-metal induced dysplasia can be screened using this app.

The innovation which showcased over 99 percent accuracy during clinical trial phase will be launched in the market after regulatory approvals.

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