App allows patients to monitor skin lesions

App allows patients to monitor skin lesions

A new smartphone application provides patients with reminders to monitor skin lesions or suspicious moles over time.

UMSkinCheck was developed at the University of Michigan Health System and allows users to create photographic baselines of their skin. It also provides step-by-step instructions for performing a self-exam.

The app guides users through a series of 23 photos, covering the body from head to toe, Newswise.com reports. It then stores any photographs of suspicious lesions for later comparisons, which the app will remind the user to repeat. Photos can be shared with the user’s dermatologist. The app also includes a way for users to calculate their personal skin cancer risk.

Although regular skin checks can help to detect melanoma in its earliest stages, whole body photography requires a professional photographer and is not always covered by insurance, Michael Sabel, M.D., associate professor of surgery and lead physician involved in developing the app, told Newswise.

“Now that many people have digital cameras on their phones, it’s more feasible to do this at home,” he says.

The app is designed for iPhone and iPad and is available to download on iTunes.

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Whooping cough cases on rise in U.S. this year

Whooping cough cases on rise in U.S. this year

 

By June 2012 the number of reported pertussis cases in the United States was nearly 44% higher than the same period last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials attributed the rise in whooping cough to the cyclical nature of the disease where the number of reported cases hits a peak every three to five years.

“The cyclical nature of the disease is really something we don’t completely understand, but it seems to happen in all states across the nation,” said New York state health department spokesman Peter Constantakes.

As of July 5, 2012, 37 states have reported increases in disease compared with the same time period in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York is one of more than a dozen U.S. states reporting a greater than three-fold increase in reported cases of the whooping cough since 2011, according to the CDC. Other states reporting particularly high rates include Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Preliminary figures reported by New York’s Health Department found 970 cases so far in 2012 of pertussis. In all of 2011, there were 931 cases reported in New York.

Health officials there on Wednesday urged people to get vaccinated.

Other factors thought to contribute to the rise in cases include families who choose not to vaccinate their children and the fact that many teens and adults who have not been immunized catch the cough but ignore it and pass it on.

About nine out of every 100,000 Americans get pertussis each year, according to the CDC. While that number is considerably smaller than before the pertussis vaccine was introduced, it has been rising for the past two decades.

The CDC estimates that worldwide, there are 30-50 million pertussis cases and about 300,000 deaths per year, with the highest disease rates among young children in countries where vaccination coverage is low.

Infants aged <1 year, who are at greatest risk for severe disease and death, continue to have the highest reported rate of pertussis, according to the CDC.

The five-shot DTaP vaccine is recommended for children at ages two, four, six and 18-months, and at four to six years old. The CDC recommends that at age 11 or 12 kids get the Tdap booster shot.

Teens and adults, especially those in contact with infants, should also get the Tdap shot, the New York state health department said.

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