Online skin cancer screening: Triage tool for the early detection of skin cancers
Skin cancer is an abnormal growth on your skin due to uncontrolled growth or division of your skin cells, that has the potential to invade and damage other surrounding tissues. It is the most common type of cancer in many countries of the world including the US.1 Skin cancer can be broadly categorized into two groups as malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Non-melanoma cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Just like any other type of cancer, early detection of skin cancer is very important. It is essential for successful treatment, reducing the risk of cancer spreading, improving cosmetic outcomes, and providing peace of mind for patients and their families. First Derm is an online platform that makes this task easier by providing you with the opportunity to consult expert dermatologists anytime anywhere. This article aims to highlight why First Derm is a perfect solution for many problems people face with regard to screening and early diagnosis of skin cancer.
There are several free skin cancer screening services available, such as “Melanoma Monday” and “Euro Melanoma Monday”. Melanoma Monday, which started in 1985 and is run by the American Academy of Dermatology, has provided free screenings for over 2.1 million people.2 However, physical screening projects may not be equally accessible to everyone.
Numerous teledermatology applications have been tested for skin cancer screening, most of which require users to submit images of lesions for visual examination, which are then compared to a virtual database. Several studies have been conducted to compare the accuracy of in-person diagnoses and diagnoses made through teledermatology. Tan et al. found that the outcomes of both modes differed by only 12.3%, which is a promising result.3 In contrast, an observational cross-sectional study by the Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth in Santa Catarina reported low compatibility between teledermatology and primary care diagnoses of skin cancer.4
One major flaw in most of the existing online screening platforms is the complete reliance on AI throughout the process. This issue is overcome by First Derm platform by connecting you directly with a board-certified dermatologist.
How First Derm works
First Derm offers a convenient, affordable, and confidential way to get a professional opinion on any skin concern, including suspicious moles or lesions, using a smartphone camera and a secure online platform.
Users can access this platform through the First Derm website or via the mobile app and submit two photographs of the lesion they are concerned about: one close-up photograph (10 cm/ 4 inches away) and one overview photograph (30 cm/ 12 inches away).
They can also provide detailed information about the lesion, such as its location, color, size, and duration, as well as their gender, age, and country. Within 8 to 48 hours, the users will receive a probable diagnosis and guidance on how to manage and treat the condition.
The reply can be viewed on the website or through email. With the user-friendly interface and clear instructions, anyone can easily use this platform. Furthermore, First Derm ensures privacy and confidentiality for all users, and you can use the platform anonymously if you desire.
Effectiveness of First Derm platform
Charles SLBG Foundation Skin Cancer Screening Report brings evidence as to how effective this platform is.5 84 different skin conditions have been identified with 28 potential malignant melanomas and 38 basal cell carcinomas. They were urgently directed to dermatologists for further evaluation and treatment.
This is potentially life-saving because Melanoma is a serious and potentially fatal skin cancer that requires a timely and accurate diagnosis. Furthermore, 802 unnecessary consultations were prevented, and reassurance was provided to the users.
One of the major limitations of the platform is, unclear images or other problems leading to the inability to arrive at a certain answer on the skin concern, in which case multiple possible answers were listed. Also, it is impossible to examine skin lesions with sophisticated methods such as dermoscopy when using an online platform.
Therefore, conventional face-to-face consultations might be the better method for diagnosis, while First Derm offers promising results as a successful screening tool to identify potential skin cancer.
Benefits offered to you by First Derm
This platform is especially effective as a triage tool for several reasons. Unlike fully automated systems that rely on comparing submitted data with a database (Ex: AI Dermatology platforms) to reach a diagnosis, the First Derm platform involves a group of board-certified dermatologists who assess the data and images submitted, to provide their expert opinions. This makes it a reliable and safe option.
The online platform also makes healthcare more accessible to people worldwide as anyone with a smartphone and internet access can use the service. It also allows individuals to connect with experts from the comfort of their homes. This platform provides a solution for the lack of medical experts in different geographic regions and the economic burden that hinders the efficacy of the conventional face-to-face screening system. Especially the people in remote or underserved areas who do not have access to regular skin examinations by dermatologists or primary care physicians are massively benefited by this.
In addition to skin cancer screening, this platform offers patient education regarding various skin pathologies through the First Derm website. Multiple images and relevant details explained in a simple understandable manner helps the general public improve their knowledge of various skin conditions, and thereby promotes early detection of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is a common condition with high mortality rates worldwide, and early detection is important for successful treatment.
First Derm is an online platform that connects users with board-certified dermatologists for expert opinions on skin concerns. Unlike fully automated systems, First Derm involves dermatologists who assess submitted data and images to provide reliable and safe opinions.
It is accessible and convenient for people worldwide and offers patient education about various skin pathologies. First Derm offers a promising solution for screening and early diagnosis of skin cancer, especially for those in remote or underserved areas and it has great value as a triage tool.
- Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics – The Skin Cancer Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2023, from https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/
- Boulos, S., Fiala, K., & Butler, D. F. (2012). Free skin cancer screening provides access to care. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 67(4), 787–788. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JAAD.2012.02.027
- E. Tan, A. Yung, M. Jameson, A. Oakley, and M. Rademaker,“Successful triage of patients referred to a skin lesion clinicusing teledermoscopy (IMAGE IT trial),”British Journal ofDermatology, vol. 162, no. 4, pp. 803–811, 2010.
- Piccoli, M. F., Amorim, B. D. B., Wagner, H. M., & Nunes, D. H. (2015). Teledermatology protocol for screening of skin cancer. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, 90(2), 202–210. https://doi.org/10.1590/ABD1806-4841.20153163
- Charles SLBG Foundation Skin Cancer Screening Report | First Derm. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2023, from https://firstderm.com/charles-slbg-foundation-skin-cancer-screening-report/
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The Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence and others.