Can you spot your cancer symptoms with your phone?
Spotting cancer early before a tumour has grown too big to remove or spread to other parts of the body makes a big difference to your chances of survival.
For most people that means either attending a cancer screening appointment or going to see the doctor about worrying symptoms early on. Sadly, though, many people either don’t recognise their symptoms or delay seeing their doctor and so many are still diagnosed at a late stage.
Greater awareness of symptoms and encouraging people to see their doctor sooner rather than later could significantly increase cancer survival rates.
Web and smartphone app developers are trying to encourage more of us to use screening tools to flag up worrying symptoms and get us to seek medical help earlier.
The difference early diagnosis makes
Some types of cancer have high five year survival rates if caught in the early stages.
- Breast cancer: In some types of breast cancer, diagnosis at stage 0 can have a 93 per cent survival rate and only 15 per at stage 4.
- Malignant melanoma: The deadliest form of skin cancer – if the cancer is less than 1mm thick (stage 1) when diagnosed 95/100 people survive at least five years – but if diagnosed at stage 4 when the cancer has spread the five year survival rate is only five to 22 per cent.
- Bowel cancer: In bowel cancer five year survival is 93 per cent of patients for stage one but just six per cent at stage 4.
How screening apps can help
There are over 200 different types of cancer with many different signs and symptoms so it can be difficult to recognise all of them – which is why cancer screening apps can sometimes be useful to flag them up. Of course there is never a substitute for seeing a doctor – try not to be embarrassed by your symptoms and remember they see this sort of thing every day.
Also bear in mind that many of your symptoms could be caused by other non life-threatening conditions – so don’t worry yourself to death – go and see your GP and get them investigated, in most cases it won’t be cancer.
Here Dr Alasdair Wright casts a critical eye on new smartphone apps that you might wish to use as a reference tool when speaking to your GP.
1. iTriage – general health app
This health app is aimed at providing users with information about conditions that could be linked to symptoms that they may be experiencing.
App rating: 4/5
2. iBreastCheck Breast cancer app
This app aims to provide women with information on looking out for breast cancer symptoms by learning how to check for breast lumps.
App rating: 4.5/5
3. SpotCheck2 ‒ mole checker app
The idea is that individuals can photograph a mole on their skin and send it along with other information to have the picture checked within a few days by a dermatologist.
App rating: 2/5
Breast cancer survival rates
Malignant melanoma statistics
Bowel cancer stats