Skin cancer is a growing problem in the United States, and around one in five people will get some kind of skin cancer in their lifetime. There are numerous types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, which develops in the thin cells of the middle and outer layers of the skin.

This type of skin cancer is rarely life-threatening when caught in the early stages. Patients with squamous cell carcinoma rely on their doctors to detect signs of this disease and provide treatment. When diagnosis is delayed and the cancer is left untreated for longer periods of time, the affected area can grow and spread, causing severe complications.

Detection of Squamous Cell Cancer

Sun-exposed areas of the skin are where squamous cell carcinoma most often occurs, including the ears, lips, and scalp. However, this cancer can develop anywhere, and body parts like the inside of the mouth, the genital area, and the bottoms of the feet are not immune.

Beginning signs of squamous cell cancer include:

  • Nodules on the skin that are pink, red, brown, or black
  • A scaly, flat sore
  • A patch inside the mouth that’s rough or scaly
  • A patch on the lip that becomes an open sore
  • A patch or sore that won’t heal

Scaly lesions or sores anywhere on the body that do not heal in a couple of months should be examined by a doctor. When a dermatologist or other physician does not properly identify squamous cell carcinoma, complications and worsening prognosis often occur.

Why is Delayed Squamous Cell Diagnosis So Dangerous?

Early stages of squamous cell carcinoma are often easily treatable, but delays in diagnosis can mean that patients face more complicated and difficult treatment options. Delays can also cause the cancer to spread to other parts of the body, further increasing the risk of complications and negative outcomes.

Squamous cell carcinoma can eventually spread to lymph nodes and other areas, like the brain, bones, and lungs. Invasive treatments will likely be needed if the cancer metastasizes and affects other organs or structures of the body. It is rare that this type of skin cancer is fatal, but that does not lessen the importance of early detection and the duty of care that doctors have to their patients.

How do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

When risk factors and patient histories are overlooked, skin cancer can be misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed. For example, skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis may be falsely blamed for squamous cell carcinoma lesions. Doctors may also be negligent in the following ways:

  • They do not refer a patient to the correct specialist
  • They do not complete a medical history
  • They fail to order diagnostic testing
  • They dismiss symptoms due to a lack of risk factors

Proving medical negligence is challenging, but if you believe that your doctor is to blame for your delayed squamous cell cancer diagnosis, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney to discuss your case. The medical malpractice lawyers at D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC have over a century of combined experience representing injured clients in Connecticut.

You may be eligible to receive financial compensation for the harm caused by a delayed diagnosis, and we can help you determine if legal action is the right choice for you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.