How to use big data to treat and manage diseases

Big data is going to be playing an increasingly important role in precision medicine, Dr. Sarin says, and a more intricate role in the optimal treatment and management of patients. Although physicians and researchers from any medical specialty can access and use big data, Dr. Sarin says that dermatologists could and should take more advantage of the wealth of data currently available at the many databases

Big data presents opportunities

“A dermatologist could ask, why should I record what specific medications my patients are currently taking if I am only treating their basal cell cancer?” said Kavita Yang Sarin, M.D., Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, Calif. “However, a researcher can use this data over millions of patients to find a new association with a specific medication and increased risk of skin cancer. In this way, the individual patient and physician contributes more broadly to improving human health.”

Reverse image search often yields wrong diagnosis for skin disease

Google's reverse image search tool isn't designed to diagnose skin conditions, researchers say, and people who try to use it this way are likely to get a wrong result.

But in a test using photographs of benign and cancerous skin conditions, the top 10 matches returned were often not the same disease at all.

"As expected, the Google reverse search engine does a great job of recognizing objects such as houses, refrigerators, animals," study coauthor Dr. Kavita Y. Sarin told Reuters Health by email. "When it comes to skin lesions, the accuracy drops significantly," said Sarin, of the dermatology department at Stanford University School of Medicine in Redwood City, California.

"Physicians undergo many years of training to diagnose many of these skin conditions and, when unsure, rely on additional tools such as dermoscopy and biopsy," she said. "It is important for users to be aware of the limitations of relying on search engine alone for diagnosis."

New genetic variants found to influence skin cancer risk

With summer upon us many are hitting the beach or pool and taking in some rays. Of course we’re also slathering on sunscreen, since with sun exposure comes risk for skin cancer. In the largest-to-date study of the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma,  researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine identified 31 genetic associations for the disease, 14 of which were identified for the first time.

New genetic variant found to influence melanoma risk

New research by scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine and 23andMe sheds more light on the genetics of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Published today in the journal Oncotarget, this genome wide association study quickly replicated 21 genetic variants associated with melanoma that were identified from seven other studies. In addition to replicating those variants, the study found one novel variant near a gene region known as BASP1 which could be protective against melanoma. The researchers found that in individuals with this form of cancer, the expression of BASP1 was suppressed, conferring an almost two-fold increased risk. “This implicates a potential tumor-suppressive role for BASP1 in melanoma,” the researchers said. Taken together the findings confirm an association between melanoma and genes involved with pigmentation, tumor suppression, the maintenance of telomere length, the formation of moles, as well as DNA repair.