What is skin cancer?
There are two types of skin cancer:
Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that develop slowly, in the upper layers of the skin, whereas melanoma tends to spread faster in the body. The most common non-melanoma skin cancers are called basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanoma skin cancer is a rarer yet more severe cancer which begins in the skin displaying as cancerous moles, and may rapidly spread to other organs in the body.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
Skin cancer symptoms vary with the type of cancer contracted. The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn’t heal after a few weeks. Cancerous lumps are red and firm, whilst cancerous patches are often flat and scaly. A GP should be consulted with any skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks, as these may be the first signs of skin cancer.
The most common sign of melanoma skin cancer is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. This can happen anywhere on the body, but most often the back, legs, arms and face are affected. Melanomas may have an irregular shape and varied colours. They may be larger than normal moles and can sometimes itch or bleed.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Melanoma skin cancers happen when some cells in the skin begin to develop abnormally. Although the exact reasons for this happening are unknown, it is thought that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from natural or artificial sources may be partly responsible.
There are also a number of factors which may increase the chances of developing melanoma skin cancer which a doctor should be aware of and screen for. These risk factors include:
- Having pale skin
- Having red or blond hair
- Having a family history of melanoma
- Having freckles
When known risk factors are paired with symptoms of skin cancer, it is imperative that the patient is referred to a specialist to confirm a diagnosis.
How Should Skin Cancer Be Diagnosed?
Once a patient has been referred to a specialist, tests should begin to accurately diagnose skin cancer. This will usually involve a biopsy, a procedure carried out under local anaesthetic which removes a suspect mole from the skin to examine it under a microscope. If cancer is confirmed, a further operation to remove a wider portion of skin will often be required. If the patient is suffering from melanoma skin cancer, tests will look to discover whether they have malignant melanomas (cancers which are prone to spread).
How Should Skin Cancer Be Treated?
A multi-disciplinary team is responsible for handling both types of skin cancer, with treatment varying dependent on the individual’s case. When helping you decide on your treatment, the team should consider:
- the type of cancer you have
- the stage of your cancer (how big it is and how far it has spread)
- your general health
They should then prepare and begin to administer a program which might involve surgical excision, cryotherapy, electrocautery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy directed at the affected area of skin. Treatment goals will vary on the progression of the cancer. If caught early, skin cancer prognosis will be good, with treatment geared towards removing the cancer. However, in later stages, cancer may have spread to other parts of the body, meaning skin cancer treatment may be focused on controlling symptoms and prolonging comfort of life.
What Might Be Grounds For A Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim?
If a GP or specialist fails to diagnose or correctly treat a skin cancer, causing undue suffering to the patient, this may warrant a claim for clinical negligence compensation. There are several circumstances which might lead to a medical negligence claim as a result of skin cancer.
Firstly, there may be a delay in diagnosis of the cancer, which may result from a GP failing to pick up on signs and symptoms which should have led to further investigations. For a claim to be successful, it is necessary to show that the delay has resulted in a worse outcome – as is often the case with skin cancer left unchecked. Delays are particularly significant as often the spread of the cancer and the ease with which it can be removed relate directly to how good the skin cancer prognosis provided is.
Once a diagnosis of skin cancer has been made it is integral that the patient understands their treatment options. In some cases surgery may carry a significant risk of leaving the patient with severe disabilities and can cause a benign tumour to become malignant, and so it is the responsibility of the medical professional to inform their patients of such risks.
If surgery is taken on, it may not be performed with sufficient care, leading to complications such as infection or nerve damage. In these instances, a claim for medical negligence may be built.
Finally, there have been cases where patients who did not actually have skin cancer were diagnosed with it. These patients may undergo the psychological stress of believing themselves a cancer patient – even, as has been known to occur, pre-operation tests and treatment which might include surgery – when in fact they had contracted something far less severe. These cases might also warrant a claim due to the distress and time off work and consequent financial losses suffered through clinical negligence.
Our solicitors can provide expert claim advice in a FREE consultation if you are unsure; simply call 01204 521 133.
How Much Will I Get?
Everyon’e’s claim is entirely different, so it is difficult to advise accurately. However, our Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator may provide a rough estimate of what you may receive. These estimates are based on your injuries and also other factors, such as psychological problems and missed time at work.
‘No Win No Fee’
At Asons Solicitors, we have taken the risk out of making a claim for all of our clients, which is why over 98% of our claims are No Win No Fee. This way, we can allow everyone access to justice, regardless of their financial position. If you choose to make a claim with us, there are no upfront fees or unexpected costs, as we take on the risk for you.
More on ‘No Win, No Fee’ here.
Our Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims Experience
Errors arising from cases of skin cancer misdiagnosis hold dire repercussions for patients. At Asons, we understand the detrimental effect it has on victims as the cancer worsens while they mistakenly assume they have a less severe condition. This is coupled with the psychological stress from being let down by a trusted medical professional. We know that victims and their families are often hesitant to come forward with their claims. As medical negligence solicitors, it’s our job to do everything within our means to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Skin Cancer Resources
Our guide, How Will A Cancer Misdiagnosis Change Your Life? was written to provide information and guidance on how to deal with a cancer misdiagnosis, as well as highlighting the occurrence rates of these errors due to an overworked NHS.
As with any claim, you may be worried about the potential costs of pursuing your clinical negligence case. To address this common concern, we have devised a variety of options to help you. We help acquire all the assistance that you are entitled to, whilst managing resulting compensation in the most beneficial way possible. We must remind you to be quick, however, as there are time limits in place for making claims of this kind.
We deal with medical negligence claims on a regular basis. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of substandard treatment, you may be eligible to make a claim. Our Medical Negligence Solicitors will work to gather all of the appropriate paperwork and documentation, whilst speaking to the parties involved, substantiating your medical claim.