Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Skin cancer occurs when there is the uncontrolled growth of skin cells because of damage to the DNA that goes un-repaired.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds are the number one cause of this DNA damage. The un-repaired DNA goes crazy and triggers an abnormal growth in skin cells that multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.

Your medical doctor should keep track of any moles you have presented on your body. Any changes in the appearance should be an indication that a biopsy is warranted. There are certain signs to look for, and if any of these are present, your physician should immediately do a biopsy to check for cancer. This is known as “the ABC’s of skin cancer.”

General Information
  • Asymmetric- Odd shaped, non-circular mole
  • Border- Jagged edges, not smooth
  • Color- Different colors within the mole
  • Diameter- If it’s larger than the end of a pencil eraser
  • Evolving- If any changes occur since it was last looked at

Types of Skin Cancer

There are three types of skin cancer. Basal cell cancer is one, and it is very common. Another is also common, and it is called squamous cell cancer. The third is melanoma which only accounts for 2% of all skin cancer, but it is the most severe. It likes to spread rapidly and invade nearby lymph nodes. If this type of cancer goes undetected, this can be deadly. 9,700 people die of the 76,000 cases of melanoma detected each year.

Melanoma Cancer

Melanoma skin cancer usually is black or brown moles, warts, or tumors but they also may be different colors. They are present on the back in males and on the legs of females. These types of cancer cells need to be caught early because they tend to spread quickly and will invade other parts of the body if they are not taken care of.

Medical Malpractice Is a Real Threat to Human Life

Skin cancer is treatable in the majority of cases if it is caught at the early stages and treated quickly. Treatment includes cutting the cancerous cells out of the body. If it is caught early enough, that is all the treatment that is necessary. If cancer has spread, it may be necessary to use radiation and chemotherapy in cases of non-melanoma cancer. If the cancer is melanoma, it must be treated with interferon because radiation and chemotherapy usually can’t cure this type of skin cancer.

It is the doctor’s responsibility to advise the patient to get tested for any abnormality of the skin. There are some medical mistakes that can delay treatment and cause substantial harm to a patient. These include:

  • Family history of skin cancer is not noted
  • Family doctor fails to recommend a dermatologist as soon as a problem is detected
  • Doctor doesn’t remove any growth that is suspect
  • Failure to diagnose the precise type of skin cancer
  • Doctor doesn’t follow up on the results of the biopsy
  • Doctor doesn’t communicate findings with other physicians involved in treatment

If any of these mistakes occur, severe harm could come to the patient. Since early detection and treatment is essential for a possible cure, it is the responsibility of the medical profession to not cause any delays in treatment. These are all grounds for malpractice. If you have experienced any of these issues as a result of your doctor not advising you correctly, contact a legal professional to discuss your options.


  1. Skin Cancer Foundation, What is Skin Cancer?
  2. Defrancisco & Falgiatano, Personal Injury Lawyers, Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis of Skin Cancer
  3. Weiss & Paarz, Medical Malpractice Attorneys, Skin Cancer