Melanoma Misdiagnosis: A Tragic and Common Mistake

Cancer is no longer the automatic death sentence that it once was. Over the past few decades, medications have been developed that make cancer a survivable illness. But the one thing that is crucial to the successful treatment of cancer is an early diagnosis. Catching cancer while it’s still in the early stages can be the difference between life and death.

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that manifests itself as a malignant tumor that appears on the skin. Its cause is generally considered to be strong exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Unprotected and heavy exposure to sunlight or frequent trips to the tanning salon have been causally linked to this disease.

Over the past twenty years, the number of cases of melanoma has tripled among Caucasians. It’s the seventh most commonly occurring form of cancer in the United States, with 1 in 65 Americans developing a case in their lifetimes.

Unfortunately, it is one of the most easily misdiagnosed types of cancer, due to the fact that in its early stages, it has the same appearance of a mole, or can even have no outward appearance at all. But despite the difficulty of catching melanoma in its early stages, there are a few risk factors for skin cancer and melanoma that a doctor or medical professional should know about. Patients that are fair-skinned or have freckles, or patients with blue or green eyes or blond or red hair have shown to be more susceptible to melanoma than other patients. Other high-risk traits include anyone who sunburns easily, has suffered from many severe sunburns in the past, or has a prior history of skin cancer.

With these risk factors being commonly known in the medical community, there is no excuse for not giving a thorough inspection of any growth on the skin. It is the responsibility of the doctor to determine whether any moles, growths, or changes of skin condition are cancerous. An appropriate examination of any of these conditions involves a basic screening for melanoma and skin cancer.

If you come to a doctor with a skin growth of any kind, a test for the existence of skin cancer is standard operating procedure. Medical professionals have a responsibility to recognize conditions that could be out of the ordinary and treat them before they become severe.

Cancer treatment is painful enough when the prognosis is made early. When the disease is in its later stages, it can be agonizing. And if the diagnosis is made too late, treatment won’t make any difference at all.

Unfortunately, with HMO’s and health care conglomerates placing more of a priority on profits rather than patient well being, getting a thorough screening is not something that can be counted on. With tests being expensive, and with the constant financial tug-of-war between hospitals and insurance companies, doctors are not encouraged to put patients through extensive testing. In a climate such as this, it isn’t surprising that so many patients fall through the cracks.

Laufenberg, Stombaugh & Jassak, S.C. have a team of experienced lawyers that are in the business of helping defend the rights of the injured citizens of Wisconsin. We can help you determine if you have a basis for legal action by thoroughly reviewing your case. If it turns out that your doctor or medical professional failed to make a proper diagnosis due to a lack of tests, we’ll work hard ot see that you or your loved ones will be adequately compensated.