College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Digital tool boosts skin cancer detection

Skin cancer diagnosis and detection has been boosted by the development of a new app.

It trains medical practitioners to spot the early warning signs of the disease.

The digital tool - named Dermofit - teaches users to accurately identify malignant and benign skin lesions at an early stage.

Experts say that the technology could improve detection rates and result in fewer misdiagnosed skin growths.

Reduced referrals

Many people are referred to hospital by GPs with skin abnormalities that turn out to be harmless.

Dermofit contains a photo library of skin lesions to allow doctors to compare those that are cause for concern with those that are not. This enables them to learn which patients should be referred for further investigation.


The concept was created by Professor Jonathan Rees of the University’s Department of Dermatology, who worked with colleagues in Edinburgh’s School of Informatics to develop the app.

It has been licensed to Simedics, a Yorkshire-based company that specialises in digital products for the healthcare industry.

Thirty per cent of doctors will automatically send a patient to a hospital if they have signs of a skin growth. But the evidence is that the vast majority of people who are seen and referred do not have skin cancer or anything serious at all.

Professor Jonathan ReesGrant Chair of Dermatology, University of Edinburgh


The app has been licenced to Simedics through Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the University’s commercialisation arm.

The company plans to launch a commercial product this autumn targeted at medical students, dermatology specialist nurses and GPs in training.

This is another example of business and academia working together to develop new technology that benefits society and the UK economy.

Derek WaddellChief Executive, Edinburgh Research and Innovation