Feds issue warning against melanoma-detecting apps

Screen views of MelApp, one of two apps the FTC has challenged for false marketing. (Photo provided by FTC.gov)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) – The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on some mobile apps that claim they can help detect cancer. The apps claim to evaluate moles to determine whether they could be the most serious type of skin cancer.

This week the FTC and marketers of the two apps agreed to settlements. The apps are MelApp and Melanoma Detective. They instruct a person to take a picture of the mole and enter some information. Then it calculates the mole’s melanoma risk of low, medium or high.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to consumers to consider the source before you look for answers to your health care questions.

FTC Attorney Karen Mandel said a false negative could delay a person from receiving the medical attention they need for skin cancer and a false positive can also have adverse effect.

“That can cause the person a lot of emotional upheaval and they could even go into their doctor and say I want this mole removed by surgery and it wasn’t necessary. So they’d have to go undergo surgery that wasn’t necessary and a lot of worry that would not be necessary,” Mandel said.

Mandel also said there are reliable sources online that can help inform people about health issues. She says government web sites are the most trustworthy, but if you ever have a true concern you should see a medical professional.

As for the case against these apps, the FTC is still pursuing charges against two additional marketers of Mole Detective who did not agree to the settlement this week.

If you believe you have downloaded an app that is inaccurately marketing itself, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Call 877-FTC-HELP or click here.

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