University of Oulu

G. Giunti, D.H. Giunta, E. Guisado-Fernandez, J.L. Bender, L. Fernandez-Luque, A biopsy of Breast Cancer mobile applications: state of the practice review, In International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 110, 2018, Pages 1-9, ISSN 1386-5056,

A biopsy of breast cancer mobile applications : state of the practice review

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Author: Giunti, G.1,2; Giunta, D.H.3; Guisado-Fernandez, E.4,5;
Organizations: 1Salumedia Tecnologias, Seville, Spain
2University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Internal Medicine Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
5Insight Centre for Data Analytics, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
6ELLICSR Health, Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
7Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
8Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
9Qatar Computing Research Institute, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation, Doha, Qatar
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-01-08


Background Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. The use of mobile software applications for health and wellbeing promotion has grown exponentially in recent years. We systematically reviewed the breast cancer apps available in today’s leading smartphone application stores and characterized them based on their features, evidence base and target audiences.

MethodsA cross-sectional study was performed to characterize breast cancer apps from the two major smartphone app stores (iOS and Android). Apps that matched the keywords “breast cancer” were identified and data was extracted using a structured form. Reviewers independently evaluated the eligibility and independently classified the apps.

ResultsA total of 1473 apps were a match. After removing duplicates and applying the selection criteria only 599 apps remained. Inter-rater reliability was determined using Fleiss-Cohen’s Kappa. The majority of apps were free 471 (78.63%). The most common type of application was Disease and Treatment information apps (29.22%), Disease Management (19.03%) and Awareness Raising apps (15.03%). Close to 1 out of 10 apps dealt with alternative or homeopathic medicine. The majority of the apps were intended for patients (75.79%). Only one quarter of all apps (24.54%) had a disclaimer about usage and less than one fifth (19.70%) mentioned references or source material. Gamification specialists determined that 19.36% contained gamification elements.

ConclusionsThis study analyzed a large number of breast cancer-focused apps available to consumers. There has been a steady increase of breast cancer apps over the years. The breast cancer app ecosystem largely consists of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Evidence base seems to be lacking in these apps and it would seem essential that expert medical personnel be involved in the creation of medical apps.

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Series: International journal of medical informatics
ISSN: 1386-5056
ISSN-E: 1872-8243
ISSN-L: 1386-5056
Volume: 110
Pages: 1 - 9
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2017.10.022
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: Guido Giunti and Estefanía Guisado-Fernández gratefully acknowledge the grant number 676201 for the Connected Health Early-stage researcher Support System (CHESS ITN) from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Commission.
EU Grant Number: (676201) CHESS - Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
Copyright information: © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (