Take Selfies For Your Health With This Mole-Tracking App

istock / istock

Selfies aren’t just for showing off cool outfits or finding your best angle anymore—a new app called MoleMapper will help you stay healthy just by snapping a few pictures of yourself. According to Popular Science, the app was designed for people to keep track of their moles and identify melanoma in its earliest stages.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Once it spreads, survival rates are low—but, identified in its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is as high as 97 percent.

The app was developed by Dan Webster, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute. He originally designed it with his wife in mind: “She has several risk factors for melanoma, so we kept track of her moles by taking pictures between appointments,” he told Popular Science. “I wanted to empower others to do the same.”

The app allows users to map their moles and document their growth. The idea is for users to share the images they take with medical professionals who can best identify whether a changing mole is malignant—however, the app also alerts users of any potentially dangerous changes, so that they can have them checked out.

But the app also serves a larger research purpose: users can choose to share their information with Oregon Health & Science University’s Melanoma Community Registry. Scientists hope that, if enough information is accumulated, it will help them better identify the early signs of melanoma. Sancy Leachman of the melanoma research program at OHSU explained, “Right now it's not possible to determine whether a mole should be removed by looking at a photo. There's just not enough data, but this app changes the scale of the data we can collect.”

[h/t: Popular Science]