Malignant Melanoma - Medical Negligence Solicitors

If you have been injured by a healthcare professional including a doctor, dentist, nurse or technician and would like to speak to a medical negligence lawyer without further obligation, just use the helpline. A medical negligence lawyer who deals exclusively in personal injury claims will speak to you, giving free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal right to receive compensation as a result of injuries caused by medical negligence.

Skin cancer is a malignant growth on the skin that is usually clearly visible making it detectable in its early stages. There are three common types of skin cancer the most dangerous of which is malignant melanoma representing the least common of the group. This variant of skin cancer does however cause 75% of all skin cancer deaths and is the condition most likely to give rise to claims of medical negligence. Malignant melanoma is believed to be mainly caused by unprotected direct exposure to sunlight and is a particular problem in Australasia where ozone levels have been implicated. If you believe that your condition has was worsened as a result of medical negligence, contact our malignant melanoma solicitors for advice at no cost.

Melanoma is a form of aggressive skin cancer half of which develop from an existing mole and half of which start from a normal area of the skin. It can be difficult to distinguish between a normal mole and a melanoma however there are differences in the ADCDE List below:-

  • Asymmetry - melanomas are irregular
  • Border - melanomas have irregular borders
  • Colour - melanomas have more than one colour
  • Diameter - melanomas are usually greater than 7mm diameter
  • Evolving - melanomas change over time

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Malignant Melanoma Diagnosis

Public awareness of skin cancer generally ensures that most victims self refer themselves to a doctor, hospital or clinic when the initial signs of a skin eruption are present. Most patients complain of a growing mole that may itch or bleed, that is of irregular shape or colour. On most occasions malignant melanoma is initially diagnosed by clinical features subsequently confirmed by a consultant following laboratory tests and often results in immediate surgery. There are several situations where medical negligence may arise, the most common of which is misdiagnosis by a doctor with subsequent failure to refer the patient on to a consultant. It is equally possible for the specialist to misdiagnose or for laboratory results to be in error or for surgery to have been carried out negligently.

Diagnosis of melanoma is carried out by a skin cancer specialist in a hospital following referral by a doctor. Failure to refer by a doctor may be misdiagnosis which is medical negligence. The specialist will make a visual examination and may use a dermatoscope prior to removal of the whole mole for biopsy. Confirmation of melanoma should be followed up by further examination and tests.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

If you are suffering from skin cancer and you believe that you are a victim of medical negligence we can help you. Our malignant melanoma solicitors provide legal advice at no cost and in most cases we are able to deal with medical negligence compensation claims for malignant melanoma using the no win no fee system. Just call our solicitors helpline or complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices and a specialist solicitor will speak to you on the telephone. We will take an initial statement over the phone and will give our opinion on liability and the likely value of the claim with no further obligation whatsoever. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and it is likely that medical negligence has put you at a disadvantage, you could benefit from a personal injury compensation claim. Such claims exist to compensate the victim for loss they have incurred with the intention of putting them back into a position they would have been but for the negligence. You can obtain damages for financial and emotional loss, and even though the latter may seem immeasurable, it will be valued in financial terms. Monetary compensation can be received for pain, suffering and loss of amenity—which are usually valued together and this, where appropriate, may extend to compensating emotional shock,fear, anxiety and embarrassment.

What determines the value of an injury? Pain and suffering may appear elusive, but will be valued according to a set of criteria including the extent of physical trauma, the discomfort involved, and the nature of any long-term problems that may have arisen. Judges will decide on the value of any pain and suffering by using precedent and consideration of previous, similar cases, tempered by the Judges own experience in practicing personal injury law.

Malignant Melanoma Overview

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in the melanocytes, which make pigment for the skin. It is much more serious that other skin cancers with many more deaths compared to other skin cancers. About 50,000 cases of melanoma are found in the US each year.

Most melanomas are easily visible as dark mole-like lesions on the skin. They tend to be irregular in shape and can be raised or flat against the skin. They are easily curable if found early. This is why you should have all abnormal lesions checked by a physician. They can be cured by minor surgery.

With melanoma, you canít diagnose it yourself. Your doctor should see these lesions. While there are many different spots that can form on the skin, especially as we age, melanoma has specific characteristics that make you more likely to have melanoma. The same is true for moles, which usually stay the same and are not inherently dangerous. Moles can, however, change and can become melanoma.

There are some guidelines to look for when suspicious for melanoma. Melanoma diagnosis depends on the ABCDs. These are what they mean:

  • Asymmetry: This means that a part of the lesion is different from the other part.
  • Border irregularity: The borders are uneven, notched and irregular.
  • Color: The color is irregular with different shades of red, black, brown or blue.
  • Diameter: The lesion is greater in diameter than the size of a pencil eraser.

This is a rough guide to go by when deciding that the lesion might be a melanoma or not. If you have any lesion that has changed, however, you should see your doctor. In addition, pay attention as to whether or not the lesion has changed. If the lesion changes rapidly, it is more likely to be malignant than if it is a slow growing lesion. Malignant melanomas tend to bleed if scratched so pay attention to that as well.

There are several risk factors for melanoma. Getting sunburned frequently can be a risk factor in getting melanoma. Frequent sunburns at a young age will definitely increase your risk. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Caucasian or white race
  • Being fair skinned with light hair and light colored eyes can increase the risk
  • History of high level, intermittent exposure to the sun, especially as a kid
  • Having a hundred or more moles on your body
  • Having large, unusual and irregular moles
  • Having a first degree relative like a parent, child or sibling have malignant melanoma

Even though only 10 percent of malignant melanomas are considered hereditary, if there is a family history, you should be examined more regularly than those who have no family history.

The best way to know whether or not you are at risk for malignant melanoma is to have a complete body skin examination by a qualified dermatologist. The dermatologist will look at your normal and questionable lesions, doing biopsies of those areas of the skin that are questionable. Any atypical moles are biopsied for melanotic properties. If your skin is found to be healthy, then you might not need an annual check-up for evaluation of your skin. Higher risk patients need a six month or annual examination for skin diseases.

The treatment of melanoma is usually just surgery. There is a type of surgery known as a Mohs procedure, which takes slices off the melanoma layer by layer until the microscopic evaluation shows no evidence of cancer. Then the area is treated with a skin flap treatment so that the skin is covered with normal skin. If the cancer comes back, it is often to the skin grafted area and to distant sites within the body. If this happens, radiation and chemotherapy can be attempted. If neither of these therapies work out, the patient generally dies of their disease.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here