According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Although any diagnosis of cancer can be terrifying, skin cancer is often curable if it is recognized and treated early enough. However, a missed diagnosis can have fatal effects because the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. If this happens, then the cancer often becomes much harder, if not impossible to treat. If a doctor misses those symptoms – or does not take a patient’s concerns seriously – it can have deadly consequences for that patient.
Although there are several types of skin cancers, three of the most common are basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Approximately three million Americans are diagnosed with either basal or squamous cell skin cancer every year. These cells are found in the outer layers of the skin, often on parts of the body which are exposed to the sun. Common areas include the back of the hands, ears, face, lips, and neck. Basal cell skin cancer typically grows slowly and does not often spread. Squamous cells can grow deeper in the skin’s layers and although it does not happen often, this type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body. If found and treated early, both of these cancers can be cured.
The third type of skin cancer is the most dangerous – melanoma. Although not as common as the other two types – approximately 75,000 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year – it is the deadliest. Of the 13,650 skin cancer deaths each year, more than 10,000 are caused by melanoma. One of the first symptoms of this cancer is an abnormal mole, either developing an odd shape or becoming raised. Early detection and treatment is crucial.
While it is important for patients to pay attention to any changes in their own bodies, the symptoms may actually appear on parts of the body where he or she does not see, such as an abnormal mole developing on their back. This is why it is so crucial for doctors to pay attention to any signs of skin cancer during an examination in order not to miss these symptoms.
Misdiagnosis is another critical mistake doctors make and instead of recognizing symptoms of skin cancer, they diagnosis the issues as another skin condition such as an irritated hair follicle, eczema, or declare an abnormal-looking mole as harmless.It is paramount for each individual patient to bring up any questions or concerns about changes to their skin with a doctor, and if an individual is ever in doubt, it never hurts to seek a second opinion. However, if a misdiagnosis truly was the cause of some medical malpractice, families should consider contacting a skilled North Carolina medical malpractice attorney if they think their advanced medical condition was caused by the doctor or hospital missing the cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosing the cancer as some other medical condition.