Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 4 News List

AI chatbot can identify moles at risk for cancer

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Jack Li, dean of Taipei Medical University’s College of Medical Science and Technology, promotes the cancer-identifying MoleMe chatbot in Taipei on Monday.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Medical University

A service powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is available online to help people identify which moles are likely to turn into melanoma, a senior Taipei Medical University (TMU) official said on Monday.

“Almost everyone has moles, but people often hesitate about asking a doctor to check if some moles might be developing into melanoma,” College of Medical Science and Technology dean Jack Li (李友專) said.

Some people often check with a doctor to see if their moles show signs of cancer, only to be told that there is nothing to do but to continue to observe them, he said, while other people allow their moles to grow into large, discolored patches before seeking a diagnosis.

Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and more than 3,000 people are diagnosed with it every year in Taiwan, Li said.

It can form anywhere on the skin, but especially in small moles and, in Asians, on the soles of the feet or on palms, he said.

DermAI, a firm incubated by TMU, developed a free chatbot service called MoleMe (痣能達人) on the Line messaging app.

Over the past year, TMU collected a database of more than 5,000 mole images that it integrated with deep-learning AI technology to develop the chatbot service.

Users simply answer five questions about their mole and upload pictures of it to have the service instantaneously analyze whether it has a higher risk of developing into melanoma, Li said.

The AI chatbot service can identify higher-risk moles with an accuracy of about 93 percent, he said.

Li said that people should be careful to note any changes in their moles, checking them at least once a month for the A, B, C and D of skin cancer — asymmetry, border (uneven borders), color (having a variety of color) and diameter (larger than 6mm) — and have the moles examined by a doctor if they change in size, shape, color or elevation, or exhibit symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

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