Melanoma Cancer Misdiagnosis
More than 99 percent of patients diagnosed with melanoma during its earliest stage are still alive five years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, this cancer is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed, resulting in delayed treatment, amputation, and premature death. If a melanoma misdiagnosis has harmed you or your loved one, you may be eligible for significant damages through a melanoma cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.
When a doctor deviates from the reasonable standard of care while assessing a suspicious mole or lesion, the patient pays the price. If you have suffered harm after a negligent doctor failed to timely diagnose melanoma, you can count on our cancer misdiagnosis lawyers at Levin & Perconti to identify the errors and hold the doctor accountable.
What Is a Melanoma Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Melanoma misdiagnosis typically occurs when a doctor dismisses a suspicious lesion as a more common and less serious condition. Later, you discover that it was indeed melanoma.
Melanoma typically presents as an area of discoloration on the skin with asymmetrical borders and uneven coloring. It may look tan or black and can occur anywhere on the body. When you request a medical assessment of a suspicious mole or lesion, a doctor has a legal duty to take it seriously and perform the appropriate testing to rule out cancer.
Doctors may misdiagnose melanoma as the following:
- Chronic wounds
- Fungal infections
- Benign moles
How Is Melanoma Diagnosed?
Rather than make a definitive diagnosis through a visual inspection alone, a doctor should perform a complete skin test for suspicious lesions or refer you to a specialist. Properly diagnosing a suspicious skin lesion should include a combination of imaging tests and skin biopsies.
The FDA has also approved a tool called MelaFind that uses pattern recognition to help a dermatologist visually identify melanoma.
If you are a high-risk patient, the standard of care may include regular full-body examinations as frequently as every three to 12 months. If you have moles or skin lesions, photography of each concerning area may be medically indicated to assess changes from one exam to the next.
Our knowledgeable and experienced melanoma misdiagnosis attorneys work with the nation’s leading medical experts to identify steps your doctor failed to take, which could have resulted in an earlier diagnosis.
Am I a High-Risk Patient?
The risk of melanoma is highest in people with the following characteristics:
- Over age 40
- Fair skin
- Male gender
- High mole count, especially on the arms
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- Smoking history
- Chronic skin problems
- Exposure to chemicals, radiation, and some medications
- Heavy exposure to ultraviolet radiation through sunlight or indoor tanning
Disparities in Melanoma Misdiagnosis
Skin cancer is less common in the non-Hispanic black population, and many doctors, including dermatologists, fail to recognize skin cancer in black patients as early as they would in non-Hispanic white patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black patients diagnosed with melanoma had a five-year survival rate of 66.2 percent compared to 90.1 percent in white patients. This disparity can be attributed in large part to later diagnoses. Patients with an earlier diagnosis had consistently higher survival rates.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical schools have a history of using non-Hispanic white models when teaching future doctors how to diagnose skin cancer. However, this is widely known, and doctors are responsible for staying up-to-date and using reasonable clinical judgment specific to each patient.
Consequences of Misdiagnosing Melanoma Skin Cancer
Melanoma begins in the outer layers of the skin, known as the epidermis and dermis. This cancer grows downward through the skin. Without intervention, it can reach the lymph nodes, blood vessels, and distant sites in the body.
Decreasing Survival Rates
The most devastating consequence of a melanoma misdiagnosis is a lower survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is highly survivable if diagnosed while isolated to the outer skin layers. The five-year survival rate plummets as the cancer spreads.
|Five-Year Survival Rate
|In the skin layers only
|Greater than 99%
|Spread to nearby lymph nodes
|Spread to distant sites in the body
Disfiguring and Disabling Surgeries
If the melanoma cancer becomes too severe near the original site, surgery may require the removal of a significant amount of skin and tissue, often resulting in disfigurement and loss of function of the affected limb. In the worst cases, a doctor may prescribe arm, leg, hand, or foot amputation to prevent the cancer from spreading further.
Toxic Systemic Treatments
If the cancer is detected while it remains in the outer skin layers, the lesion can often be removed through surgery or localized radiation without further treatment.
If the cancer is not diagnosed or treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes or distant sites, chemotherapy or immunotherapy may be required to slow or stop the spread. These therapies are associated with severe short-term and long-term side effects, including the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Temporary hair loss
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Blood clotting problems
- Brain fog
- Secondary cancers, such as leukemia
- Nerve damage
- Loss of white blood cells
- Infertility in women
If you have experienced long-term effects from chemotherapy that would have been unnecessary with a timely diagnosis, our melanoma misdiagnosis attorneys may be able to help you recover financial compensation for your pain, suffering, and other damages.
Who Can Be Held Responsible For A Melanoma Misdiagnosis?
General practitioners and dermatologists are the most often the health care providers who are responsible for a misdiagnosis of skin cancer, but any practitioner involved in the misdiagnosis may be held liable, including the following:
- Nurse practitioners
Our talented melanoma cancer misdiagnosis attorneys will perform a detailed review of the conduct of every health care provider involved in your medical care leading up to your misdiagnosis to ensure we include all responsible parties in your lawsuit. This can help maximize your compensation.
How Much Is My Melanoma Misdiagnosis Case Worth?
Nationwide, the average payout for a melanoma misdiagnosis is $692,492. The compensation you may be able to recover after a melanoma misdiagnosis varies based on the severity of the harm you suffered and its financial impact.
One of the most important factors in compensation is the dedication and experience of your medical malpractice lawyer. When you hire our nationally recognized melanoma misdiagnosis lawyers, we will help you pursue maximum compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
When calculating your case value, we will thoroughly investigate your medical records, conduct interviews, and work with leading medical experts and consultants to develop a complete picture of how the misdiagnosis has affected you. This valuation includes how it will continue to affect you, including your earning capacity, ongoing medical expenses, and quality of life.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Melanoma Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
The Illinois statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is generally two years from the date you were misdiagnosed or the date you discovered or should have discovered the misdiagnosis. Regardless of your discovery date, you must file your lawsuit no later than four years after the doctor committed the error.
It is important to involve our experienced medical malpractice lawyers as soon as possible after you realize a melanoma misdiagnosis has harmed you. The statute of limitations is complex, and we can determine how it applies to your case and ensure your lawsuit is filed on time.
Why Hire the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Levin & Perconti?
With more than 200 years of combined experience, our medical malpractice lawyers at Levin and Perconti are pioneers in cancer misdiagnosis litigation, and our knowledge of state and federal medical malpractice law is unmatched. We never settle for less than our clients deserve and are unafraid to take cases to trial.
Our confidence stems from our consistent track record of successful settlements and verdicts. Our results have set records, and many of our cases are landmarks that have set court precedents for medical malpractice claims.
Below are just a few examples of the results we have achieved for our clients:
- $14 million record verdict against a doctor and hospital for ignoring an abnormal chest X-ray, resulting in a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer
- $5.35 million settlement over the failure to diagnose postpartum cardiomyopathy, resulting in the death of an 18-year-old new mother one month after her child’s birth
- $3.6 million wrongful death settlement for a failure to diagnose after a radiologist missed a massive tumor, resulting in the death of a 29-year-old husband and father
- $2.3 million settlement with a laboratory for improperly reading pap smears, resulting in the wrongful death of a 35-year-old mother of three children from cervical cancer
We charge no upfront fees, and you will never owe us anything unless we win. Contact our melanoma cancer misdiagnosis attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to questions we frequently receive about melanoma cancer misdiagnosis.
Who Can File a Melanoma Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
You may be able to recover damages in a melanoma cancer lawsuit if your skin cancer was misdiagnosed, allowing the cancer to progress enough to cause you substantial harm, such as the following:
- Effects of chemotherapy that may have been avoided with a timely diagnosis
- Organ damage caused by cancer progression or treatment
- Amputation or other disfiguring surgery due to advanced melanoma
- The death of a loved one as a result of a melanoma misdiagnosis
The only way to know for sure if your case qualifies is to schedule a free case review with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers.
Is Melanoma Cancer Misdiagnosis a Form of Medical Malpractice?
Melanoma cancer misdiagnosis may be a form of medical malpractice if you can prove that it stemmed from negligence and that the misdiagnosis caused harm. Medical negligence occurs when a health care provider fails to exercise a reasonable standard of care while investigating symptoms. Examples of medical negligence during diagnosis include the following:
- Dismissing your symptoms
- Failing to order the appropriate tests
- Failing to refer you to a specialist
- Missing suspicious signs of skin cancer
How Common Is Melanoma Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Melanoma is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers. According to a study published in the Medicine, 30 percent of melanoma cases were initially misdiagnosed. The study authors found this conclusion consistent with other studies.
Does Levin & Perconti Help With Misdiagnosis of Skin Cancer Other Than Melanoma?
The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are less aggressive than melanoma but still have the potential to spread and cause harm if misdiagnosed. If you have suffered harm due to any skin cancer misdiagnosis, our melanoma cancer misdiagnosis lawyers are here for you.
What Should I Do If I Suspect I Have Been Misdiagnosed with Melanoma?
Your health is your top priority. If you suspect you have received a misdiagnosis, you should seek a second opinion as soon as possible.
For your legal case, document your symptoms and any statements your doctor makes, including dates. Take pictures of any skin lesions you have concerns about. If you learn that your cancer has progressed because of an untimely diagnosis, contact one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers immediately.