Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. But some patients are less fortunate, due to the physician’s failure to diagnose their cancer. In most cases of failure to diagnose, the doctor does not perform the recommended testing, based on standards of care, that will confirm or rule out a diagnosis of melanoma. Once melanoma advances to Stage II, survival rates decrease significantly, and more painful and invasive treatments must be endured by the patient.
Four Stages of Melanoma
Stage I: Cancer cells are observable on the outer layer of the epidermis. There is little chance that the cancer will spread if treated at this stage. The five year survival rate is 98%.
Stage II: Cancer has permeated the skin. There is a slightly higher chance of metastasis. The five year survival rate is 98%.
Stage III: Cancer cells have reached the lymphatic system, possibly spreading to other organs. The five-year survival rate decreases to 63%.
Stage IV: Cancer has reached the bloodstream, perhaps infiltrating the lungs, brain, bones, liver or gastrointestinal tract. Stage IV melanoma is extremely difficult to treat. The five-year survival rate drops to 16%.
Every physician has a duty to perform melanoma cancer screening for those patients who demonstrate signs and symptoms, in order to discover melanoma in the early stages and successfully treat the disease. Physicians who take no action, allowing melanoma to progress to advanced stages, may be held accountable for a failure to diagnose melanoma.
The physician may order tissue biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of melanoma. Other tests may include:
- PET scan
Do you believe your doctor may have failed to diagnose your melanoma, so that your condition has worsened? You may be entitled to receive compensation.
Negligence cases related to a failure to diagnose may stem from:
- Taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding biopsy and analysis of a mole or lesion
- Lack of medical guidance as to proper monitoring of the mole or lesion for growth or changes that should be reported
- Misdiagnosis of cancerous melanoma as benign, with the resultant metastases
- Misdiagnosis of a benign lesion as cancerous, leading to unnecessary medical treatment
Contact a qualified failure to diagnose attorney today to discuss your case and learn about your rights.