Skin cancer: Smartphone camera lens technology to be used to diagnose thousands of patients

Tens of thousands of skin cancer patients could be diagnosed faster thanks to a new smartphone camera lens.

The lens - which is the size of a 50p - can attach to a smartphone and take detailed images of moles or skin legions.

Dubbed "teledermatology" by NHS officials, the service is to be rolled out across all areas of England by July with hopes that specialist doctors like dermatologists can double the number of patients they can assess in a day.

Last year around 600,000 people were referred for skin cancer checks, while 56,000 skin cancer patients received treatment.

The device was shown to have helped avoid about 10,000 unneeded face-to-face appointments during an earlier testing phase, NHS officials said.

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The technology may also enable GPs in rural areas to help their patients be reviewed faster.

Dr Tom While, a GP from Somerset, said: "It's a fantastic service and an asset to rural general practice, and hard to imagine working without it."

It comes as a new poll, conducted by Censuswide on 2,000 British adults on behalf of King Edward VII's Hospital, found that 22% do not wear sun cream.

The NHS is also trialling artificial intelligence (AI) tools to assess the presence of skin cancer.

The technology, called Deep Ensemble for the Recognition of Malignancy (Derm), is currently being used alongside the assessment of doctors to see if it comes to the same conclusions.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said that "championing the use of digital technology" is "key" in reducing wait times and huge pressures on the health service.

Neil Daly, Skin Analytics founder and CEO, says: "Our mission is to help more people survive skin cancer and by providing easier access to skin cancer assessments and we are excited to help additional hospitals see more patients faster through the use of our DERM technology.

"The NHS's decision to roll out DERM to support teledermatology is another positive example of the NHS championing world-leading technologies and the next generation of dermatology pathways."