Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer and among the most common type of cancer in young adults. Delayed melanoma diagnosis can have devastating consequences due to its highly aggressive nature. Advanced melanoma is considered incurable, which makes early diagnosis the key to improved outcomes.

Importance of Early Detection and the Dangers of Delayed Melanoma Diagnosis

The sooner that melanoma is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of survival. A study conducted by Cleveland Clinic’s Cancer Center and Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute found that overall survival rates decreased when patients went longer than 90 days from diagnosis to receive surgical treatment. When diagnosis is delayed, so are the much-needed treatment and surgical procedures to address melanoma.

Doctors have a variety of procedures and tests they can use to identify melanoma, including physical exams and tissue removal. Your physician should ask health history questions to discover risk factors, as well as perform a visual exam of your skin to look for signs of melanoma. A biopsy may be necessary if any concerning skin lesions or suspicious moles are found.

Other options for detecting melanoma and assessing the severity of the disease include:

  • Sentinel node biopsies
  • PET scans
  • X-rays
  • MRIs

If found early enough, melanoma can often be surgically removed because it tends to include only a small and thin area of skin. Left undetected and untreated, it can quickly spread and thicken. For advanced stages of melanoma, treatment becomes focused on prolonging life and addressing symptoms rather than curing the cancer.

When Doctors Delay Melanoma Diagnosis

The devastating and life-threatening results of a delayed melanoma diagnosis should not be taken lightly. If your doctor is responsible for the delay in treatment that led to your worsening or advanced melanoma, they could face liability for the harm their negligence has caused.

Medical negligence that could lead to a delay in diagnosis includes:

  • Removing the incorrect tissue for biopsy
  • Missing a suspicious lesion or mole in a visual exam
  • Misreading test results
  • Measuring the melanoma incorrectly
  • Not removing all the melanoma and affected tissue
  • Ignoring medical history or patient symptoms

There are many ways that a doctor can be negligent and cause their patient to suffer worse outcomes or lose the possibility of effective treatment options. If you believe that your physician’s negligence led to your delayed melanoma diagnosis, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC.

While doctors are responsible for early detection and access to treatment, there are at-home methods to keep an eye out for signs of melanoma. It is recommended that everyone keep in mind the “ABCDE” method:

  • Asymmetry on either side of a skin spot
  • Borders of moles and spots that are uneven
  • Color that is uneven or mottled
  • Diameter that is bigger than the end of a pencil eraser
  • Evolving spots that change color, shape, or size

This rule works for many melanomas but not all, which is why patients rely on their doctors’ expertise to identify troubling symptoms and potential signs of this deadly form of skin cancer.

Contact a Delayed Melanoma Diagnosis Attorney

The medical malpractice lawyers at D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC have over 100 years of combined experience advocating for clients and protecting their rights. Delays in melanoma treatment can be fatal, and doctors who cause their patients to miss out on vital treatment options should be held responsible. Let us help you fight for the justice you deserve for your delayed melanoma diagnosis. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.