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A new study lead by Dorota Z. Korta, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, suggests that Black, Hispanic people, and other minorities tend to know less about skin cancer than whites. For the study, Korta and her colleagues surveyed 152 people who visited a dermatology clinic at a New York City public hospital.
Although the sample size for the study is small, the findings are congruent to other research that shows minorities with skin cancer tend to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage and have lower chances of survival than whites. The study was published online on the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology website.
Dr. Darrell Rigel, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology said “People of all races are equally at risk of getting skin cancer on the palms of their hands or soles of their feet - but those aren't common places for sun exposure… For other parts of the body, the chances are much less (among minorities), but you can still get it. African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities with darker skin than whites are less likely to realize that they're at risk for skin cancer.”
Many respondents were unaware of the warning signs of skin cancer: (A) asymmetry, (B) border, (C) color, (D) diameter and (E) evolving nature of a mole.
50 percent of white survey respondents answered correctly that an asymmetrical shape is a characteristic of melanoma, compared to 12 percent of minority respondents. Most other responded “I don’t know.”
71 percent of white survey respondents correctly identified changes in the size or shape of moles over time as a characteristic of melanoma, compared to 29 percent of minority respondents
Of all the participants, 16 percent had undergone a total body skin examination by a doctor to check for skin cancer. Fifteen percent said they performed self-exams for skin cancer but only 11 percent had ever been taught by a health care practitioner how to look for cancer.
Survey respondents were also asked about their beliefs regarding the purpose of skin cancer screening, and the majority of them - whites and minorities alike - incorrectly stated that skin cancer screenings help prevent the disease. The correct response is that skin cancer screenings reduce the risk of death from skin cancer.
The School of Medical Science and Technology at IIT, Kharagpur has developed a smartphone application, called ‘ClipOCam-Derma', to help physicians speed up skin cancer diagnosis. Lead by research scholar Debdoot Sheet, this innovation has recently won the ‘GE Edison Challenge 2013’ in Bangalore.
"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.
How It Works
Along with the mobile app, a clip-on device is illuminates the patient’s skin using a colorful flash while the smartphone’s camera captures a sequence of images. The images are then uploaded to the ‘DRICTION’ cloud computational imaging service.
The images are then processed to provide consolidated diagnostic information to skilled physicians to assess potential risks. The mobile application will assist in fast and high-precision screening of skin lesions and abnormalities such as cancers, melanoma, ulcers, psoriasis, and lypoma.
"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 said.
Accuracy and Availability
‘ClipOCam-Derma' will be launched after regulatory approvals and Sheet said tests have found it to be 99% accurate.
Note that this mobile app is only available to hospitals and trained physicians. Although there are ‘so-called’ skin cancer diagnosis mobile apps available for iPhone and Android for under $5, the accuracy of those apps is questionable.