Moletest is a UK-based company founded in September 2010. It is associated with the World’s first online remote mole screening service for the detection of non-melanoma ( e.g. Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma) and melanoma skin cancers in moles. The firm developed a unique image processing technique to assess photographic images of lesions (melanocytic nevus) against known case results – providing a ‘traffic light’ based evaluation where green is a ‘normal’ lesion, amber a ‘borderline’ lesion with potentially unpredictable biological behaviour, and red a potentially ‘cancerous’ one.
Working with the NHS
Moletest (UK) Ltd was set up to provide what is intended to be an easy-to-use, remotely accessible online service for members of the public who are worried about a suspicious mole. The service provides straightforward information about skin cancer and gives advice based on highly sophisticated analysis of a digital image of a suspect mole. As with similar diagnostic techniques, it is not intended to be a substitute for existing medical services. Moletest was designed to work in harmony with GP by forwarding suspect results directly onto consumers' GPs. It is intended as a first stage assessment that will either largely eliminate the need for unnecessary biopsies, or, more importantly, give consumers vital early warning signs of a potential problem.
The technology behind the Moletest service was created by Prof. Jonathan Blackledge from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Dr Dmitriy Dubovitskiy of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Funding was provided by Science Foundation Ireland and is supported by Hothouse, the technology transfer office of DIT. To use the service consumers are required to register an account, upload an (5MP) image of the suspect mole to Moletest’s website – this can even be taken on a mobile phone – pay a screening fee and get their results. The trained computerised system - which is systematically supervised and audited by a panel of advisory dermatologists - evaluates the customer’s image against a ‘bank’ of known results (a plethora of clinical images of moles) to see if there are any characteristics consistent with previous cases of cancer.
The technology has been widely acclaimed by the medical community. In particular it has been supported by Professor Rino Cerio a consultant dermatologist at the St Bartholomew’s (Barts) and the London Hospital. However, some critics have warned that the technology must not be seen by consumers as being a replacement for seeking traditional medical advice but solely used as a complimentary service designed to reduce unnecessarily referrals in the NHS.
- "A £40 home test which could help combat skin cancer". The Daily Mail. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Wagner, Siobhan (2010-09-24). "Software-based service could identify cancerous moles". Theengineer.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Rose, David (2010-09-22). "Website can ‘detect skin cancer’ from a photograph of a mole". Thetimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-11.