Scandinavian Start Ups Create New Ways to Diagnose Skin Cancer
Healthcare in Scandinavia is already reputed to be among the best in the world. However, thanks to a few new smartphone applications, this level of efficiency could actually increase: several startups in Denmark and Sweden are reportedly working on ways to diagnose skin cancer while removing unnecessary trips to the dermatologist from the equation.
Skin cancer is a prevalent problem in the United States, with an estimated one in five Americans developing the condition at some point in their lives. However, the situation is even more severe in Denmark, which has the third highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world. Fortunately, all skin cancers, including melanoma, can be treated effectively if they are diagnosed early. However, even in a famously efficient nation like Denmark, patient first need to determine if they show any signs of the condition.
That’s where Teleskin comes in. Based in Esbjerg, Denmark, the company is planning to launch their first consumer product: skinScan, which allows users to take pictures of any strange moles or lesions to determine if they are typical or atypical. To accomplish this, Teleskin developed hardware and software for a clinical multi-spectral dermoscope, which uses multiple colors and high-powered magnification to visualize the microscopic structure of lesions in different layers of the skin.
As advanced as this work sounds, however, it is currently impossible to bring this level of detail and analysis to a smartphone, especially through an app. For this reason, skinScan appears to focus on analyzing lesions based on their asymmetry, borders, color, and diameter. While it won’t replace a visit to the dermatologist, and biopsies will still be necessary to confirm if an atypical mole is cancerous, this could help patients who are struggling to determine if a mark on their skin is unusual or not.
It may not be perfect solution to the skin cancer epidemic, but skinScan and Teleskin have attracted plenty of attention from investors nonetheless. Recently, the company secured six million krone, or roughly $848,128 USD, from SEED Capital, Denmark’s largest venture fund, another Danish health care venture fund called Welfare Tech Invest, and a Serbian company.
Teleskin reportedly plans to make the app available for iPhone and Android models, launching in Denmark before moving on to Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. However, they may face some competition from some other Scandinavian startups: for example, the Stockholm-founded iDoc24’s First Derm and STD Triage apps provide the patient-to-doctor experience without skinScan’s image algorithms.
While the future of these apps is uncertain, one thing is certain: if the healthcare technology has its way, you may not need to visit your dermatologist’s office for a checkup in the future.