On Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission announced that it reached settlements with two companies that marketed apps claiming the ability to diagnose melanoma. Two marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective were charged with “deceptively claiming their mobile apps could detect symptoms of melanoma, even in its early stages,” the FTC wrote in a press release. Two additional marketers of Mole Detective did not settle, and the FTC is still pursuing charges against them.

These melanoma apps and others like them work by asking the user to take a picture of the problematic skin area and then analyzing the picture to see if the risk for melanoma is low, medium, or high. “The FTC alleged that the marketers deceptively claimed the apps accurately analyzed melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages,” the FTC wrote.
Applications such as these could pose a serious risk to consumers. In 2013, Ars wrote about a study of the results of these kinds of apps, published in JAMA Dermatology, which found that the four apps that the researchers tested at the time misdiagnosed 30 percent of malignant melanoma as being benign. That kind of result could give someone an excuse to put off a visit to their doctor until it’s too late.
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