Tens of thousands of skin cancer patients could be diagnosed faster thanks to new smartphone cameras.
The lens — 50p in size — can connect to a smartphone and take detailed images of moles or skin lesions.
The service, dubbed “teledermatology” by NHS officials, is due to roll out in all parts of England in July, with the hope that specialists like dermatologists will be able to double the number of patients they can assess in a day.
Approximately 600,000 referrals last year skin cancer examination, while 56,000 skin cancer patients were treated.
NHS officials said the device had already been shown to help avoid around 10,000 unnecessary face-to-face appointments during an early testing phase.
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The technology could also enable GPs in rural areas to help their patients get checked more quickly.
Dr Tom While, a GP from Somerset, said: “It’s a fantastic service and an asset to rural GPs, it’s hard to imagine working without it.”
A new poll of 2,000 UK adults by Censuswide on behalf of King Edward VII Hospital found that 22% don’t wear sunscreen.
The NHS is also trialling an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to assess the presence of skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Signs to Spot
According to the NHS, skin cancer can be diagnosed as non-melanoma and melanoma, the latter being more serious.
The first sign of non-melanoma is usually a slow-growing bump or discolored patch of skin.
In most cases, these cancerous bumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers.
One of the main signs of melanoma is a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
Moles that are uneven in shape, have mixed colors, change in shape over time, or are very large may be melanoma.
The technique, called Deep Ensemble for the Recognition of Malignancy (Derm), is currently being used alongside physician evaluations to see if it comes to the same conclusion.
National Health Insurance System Chief executive Amanda Pritchard said “advocating the use of digital technology” was “key” to reducing waiting times and reducing the enormous pressure on health services.