Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

Dermatology Online Journal bannerUC Davis

Challenges to smartphone applications for melanoma detection


This commentary addresses the emerging market forhealth-related smartphone applications. Specific todermatology, there has been a significant increasenot only in applications that promote skin cancerawareness and education but also in those meantfor detection. With evidence showing that 365dermatology-related applications were available in2014--up from 230 in 2012--and that 1 in 5 patientsunder the age of 50 have used a smartphone tohelp diagnose a skin problem, there is clearly a largesubset of patients participating in this growing trend.Therefore, we are obligated to take a closer lookinto this phenomenon. Studies have shown thatapplications are inferior to in-person consultationswith one study showing that 3 out of 4 applicationsincorrectly classified 30% or more melanomas aslow-risk lesions. Although the FDA gained regulatoryoversight over mobile health applications in 2012and recently released their statement in 2015, theirreach only extends to cover a selected portion ofthese applications, leaving many unregulated asthey continue to be marketed toward our patients.Dermatologists should be updated on our currentsituation in order to properly counsel patients on therisks and benefits of these applications and whetherthey are acceptable for use.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View