Greek researchers invent cellphone diagnostic for melanoma

11 November 2015
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An innovative system for the early diagnosis of malignant melanoma was created by Greek researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, at the Technological Institute of Athens. The system comprises of two separate smartphone applications, one for the patient and one for the doctor, which are already in the stage of pilot implementation and evaluation.

The apps, developed under the Android environment project MARK1, facilitate patients, but mostly physicians in making timely and accurately diagnosis of any dangerous skin damage. The researchers sought to develop a solution that is easily accessible to the general public under the guidance and control of a doctor.

The patient will be able to self-examine his or her body by photographing suspicious moles using the smartphone’s camera and then sending the photos to the dermatologist for evaluation. The doctor will assess the need for further examination in order to increase the likelihood of early detection of the disease.

MARK1 currently operates in English, but can be translated to Greek in the future. The technology of the automated system is based on artificial intelligence algorithms, recognition patterns and image analysis.

Melanoma, which often makes early metastases, is the most critical and most deadly form of skin cancer. According to the World Health Organization, every year there are about 132,000 new cases and 48,000 deaths. In the last four decades incidents have increased by 800% in young women and 400% among young men.

There is a high rate of melanoma cases in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, due to people’s extensive exposure to ultraviolet radiation because of the sunny weather in the region. The survival rate of patients after diagnosis of melanoma has now risen to about 70%, but drops to 15% if the cancer metastasizes to other organs. Therefore early detection is fundamentally important in order to increase the likelihood of long-term survival of patients.

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