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[5 min read] Skin cancer diagnosis: Artificial intelligence and full-body photography
Digitisation has become an indispensable part of medicine, and systems like total body photography and artificial intelligence can now support doctors in some medical fields with the same precision as an expert. For example, new systems are becoming available that aid physicians in the rapid detection of new, altered and malignant moles.
Full-body and spot-specific photography systems enable physicians to take a new approach to the digital diagnosis of skin cancer, significantly reducing the need for biopsies and unnecessary excisions.
These systems can document the entire skin surface in high-resolution imagery, resulting in clear clinical images that allow the physician to zoom into a full-body photo to see a mole’s microscopic structure.
The doctor is supported by automated software that identifies existing lesions, so the physician can quickly “scan” the moles visually without having to examine each one individually with a dermatoscope.
Only the few lesions that are identified as atypical or suspicious need to be analysed with a dermatoscope, leading to considerable time savings and the detection of even the smallest abnormalities.
Around 70 per cent of melanomas do not develop from existing moles, but rather appear as new spots, beginning as a barely visible lesion just a millimetre in size. It is these extremely small lesions that are often overlooked in a classic examination, but these new technologies help to visualise the moles on a patient’s skin in such a way that new lesions become visible at a glance.
The future of skin cancer diagnostics lies in innovative, intelligent and time-saving solutions. In fact, deep learning artificial intelligence algorithms can help analyse and diagnose skin lesions with even greater accuracy than dermatologists.
In a clinical study by the Department of Dermatology at Heidelberg University Hospital, artificial intelligence systems came up with more accurate diagnostic results than the medical specialists involved in the study, while taking less than one second to reach a conclusion.
For patients, full-body photography and artificial intelligence diagnostic tools mean greater reliability in the earliest detection of skin cancer. The waiting time for a diagnosis (which can cause considerable patient anxiety) is reduced, and these is less need for biopsies and unnecessary excisions.
Nevertheless, these systems cannot replace human intelligence and experience in the detection of skin cancer. In the end, the doctor decides what to do.