Could your selfies help screen for cancer?

When it comes to a disease like cancer, early detection is critical to providing the right treatment and preventing it from progressing. According to the American Cancer Society, 15.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive as of Jan. 1, 2016. The organization predicted that more than 1.6 million new cases will be diagnosed this year. Fortunately, new tools and treatment options are emerging to help detect cancer signs as early as possible and give patients their best chance for remission. Your selfies could be one of the very assets to help screen yourself for cancer.

Mobile app takes aim at pancreatic cancer

Could taking a picture really make a difference in the cancer screening process? Signs point to yes. The University of Washington initiated the BillScreen project, an app aiming to screen pancreatic cancer just by asking users to take a quick selfie. Digital Trends noted that the software quantifies the extent of jaundice in an individual, one of the early symptoms of people that have pancreatic cancer. With computer vision algorithms and machine learning tools, BillScreen looks for bilirubin levels in the white part of a person's eyes. In an initial study, the app correctly identified cases for concern 89.7 percent of the time. Although a jaundiced individual may not have cancer, it is still a good indicator for getting a professional consultation and preventing potential health issues.

Selfies

Self-diagnosis can help patients seek out advice earlier.

Document changes over time

Photos help keep memories of our lives, but they can also help to save them. Some doctors suggest to take nude selfies to watch skin changes over time. Plastic surgeon Dr. Ian McDougall told Daily Mail that taking snapshots every six months can help identify problems more effectively by comparing previous images. Capturing the state of your skin and any moles will enable people to check for variances and take action quickly if anything has changed. Yearly visits to the doctor can't always yield this type of response time, making patients responsible for regularly monitoring any skin or mole aberrations.

Self-diagnosis isn't always a straight science, but it can go a long way toward early detection and ensuring that patients remain healthy. Long-held self examinations for unusual lumps are still a good indicator, but photos and new apps can help extend patient capabilities to determine when something is truly a problem. As these tools become more advanced, more testing will be required to fully gauge their effectiveness and provide patients with the assets necessary to preserve their health.

Cancer is becoming a more prevalent problem across the world, and some cases are entirely preventable, provided it's caught early enough in the process. Doctors must inform patients of their options to aid in the diagnosing process and how to proceed when they need an expert opinion. Emerging tools and photo evidence will be critical in the future to mitigating cancer cases and getting the proper treatment right away.