Due to COVID concerns, skin cancer screenings were down earlier this year. This simple way to track skin over time is a plus for doctors and patients.
It wasn’t long ago that cell phones were accused of potentially causing cancer. But times have changed, and the National Cancer Institute put many of our cell phone fears to rest. Now, with routine exams and trips to the doctor hampered by a pandemic, new technology and app advances on our very own smartphones may very well be the most important tools we have on hand for screening and early detection.
“I’m going to paint a wild picture,” Deloitte’s Life Sciences and Health Care, Neal Batra told me over the phone. “Imagine a magical technology that allows you to detect cancers that emerge in the body with a tech platform that is personal to you, always-on, completely private, alerts your doctor, and maybe even ultimately saves your life. Wild, right? Well, it already exists and we have many emerging examples already radically changing outcomes.”
Pandemic postpones screenings
During the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer screenings decreased by as much as 94% across the country according to a July report by the Epic Health Research Network. Officials from the National Cancer Institute add that a sharp decline in routine screenings for breast, lung, colon and skin cancers – among others – will lead to missed and delayed cancer diagnoses that could result in more than 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colon cancer alone over the next 10 years.
How your phone can help?
One of the best examples of new tech helping bridge this pandemic-fueled health care gap is the new skin-cancer fighting app Miiskin (iOS, Android). It’s the first AI-powered app to use full-body skin mapping and augmented reality to digitally track moles, freckles, and skin changes over time.
Why is this important? One in five Americans develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Yet due to COVID concerns, skin cancer screenings were down earlier this year. While they now seem to be on the rebound, this simple, private way to track skin over time is a huge plus for doctors and patients alike.
Automatic skin imaging by Miiskin app. (Photo: Handout)
“People can use it to document changes in their skin month by month, and then (share those results) with their dermatologist or primary care provider. (Up to) 80% of melanomas appear as new marks or moles and just 20% come from existing moles, so tracking changes in the skin is critical for catching skin cancer early,” said Jon Friis, founder of Miiskin.
The app is not a substitute for virtual or in-person visits with your doctor, and it does not evaluate risk level or diagnose skin cancer.
“Miiskin’s goal is to empower patients in between regular skin checks,” Friss adds.
The way it works is simple. You download the app, add yourinformation,
“State of Utah: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Record cases. Almost every county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed,” read the alert. “By public health order, masks are required in high transmission areas. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer.”
“Be careful!” it warned, alongside a link containing more information about the ever-worsening coronavirus surge.
The messages were sent beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday and remained active for 15 minutes.
Typically used for severe weather and AMBER Alerts, state and local officials are increasingly deploying these Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to warn of Covid-19 spikes as well. Through late September, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local officials had sent the public than 400 such alerts.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, there are a number of people who are not aware of the dire situation we find ourselves in,” state officials said. “As a result, the emergency alert was an effort to “make sure nearly everyone is aware of the serious nature of the pandemic.”
The alert came as the state hit a grim milestone, as Utah hits record highs in several Covid-19 measures, including number of new cases, 7-day case average, and test positivity percentage, the state data dashboard shows.
In a press conference on Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called the state’s situation “one of the worst outbreaks in the country.”
The state reported a record 2,281 new Covid-19 cases Friday, according to state data. Previously, its record high was 1,989 cases on October 22. Furthermore, its 7-day case average now sits at a record of 1,621.7 cases, and its percentage of positive tests is at a record 18.17% as of Friday. All of these barometers are steadily climbing.
Meanwhile, 72.5% of Utah’s ICU beds are occupied, along with 54% of its traditional beds, according to the state dashboard, meaning that hospitals are quickly running out of space for new patients.
CNN’s Jenn Selva contributed to this report.Read More