Skin cancer treatment times could be cut dramatically if doctors adopt a new method developed by Swedish researchers to identify cancerous growths with the help of their smartphones.
The method, which underwent testing at 20 clinics in 2012, uses smartphones equipped with a microscope which enables doctors to photograph potential melanomas and send the results to specialists for further assessment.
"At skin clinics we have achieved a better prioritization of referrals and the number of first visits by patients who do not have skin cancer has declined," said Eva Johansson, skin specialist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, in a statement after the tests.
"This reduces financial costs, both for the sickness benefit and medical transport but also for unnecessary doctor visits."
The tests showed that almost all referrals were dealt with within 24 hours with the help of the technology, in comparison to 4-5 days with a normal patient referral.
Waiting times for treatment also declined - from 46 days to 14 days on average for those suffering from malignant melanoma.
According to a report in the local Göteborgs Posten daily on Thursday, the method could become a feature of treatment at skin clinics in the region from 2015.
"All skin cancers can be cured if the patient receives a diagnosis and treatment in a timely manner. If teledermascopy referral is introduced as routine, care will be significantly faster and more efficient," according to Eva Johansson.
Skin cancer is the form of the disease which is growing fastest in Sweden, with a six percent hike in 2013. Various types of skin cancer account for some 15.5 percent of of the total number of cancer cases in Sweden - some 57,270 in 2013.
The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has estimated that the risk of being hit by (any form of) cancer before the age of 75 is 28 percent for women and 30 percent for men.