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Biotech Innovations
April 14, 2020

Artificial Intelligence–Based Skin Cancer Phone Apps Unreliable

JAMA. 2020;323(14):1336. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4543

Smartphone apps that use artificial intelligence to assess skin cancer risk based on images of suspicious moles aren’t ready for prime time, a recent systematic review in the BMJ suggests. The 9 studies included in the review “showed variable and unreliable test accuracy” for 6 such apps, 2 of which are approved by European regulators as medical devices.

Of those 2 apps, only 1 was supported by published peer-reviewed studies, and its accuracy in those studies was poor compared with experts. The reviewers concluded that, overall, the 9 diagnostic accuracy studies were small and of poor methodological quality. Among other problems, clinicians rather than consumers usually selected which moles were assessed and took the pictures. In addition, up to 45% of images were excluded as unevaluable, potentially inflating the apps’ diagnostic performance.