Skin Cancer Solicitors - Medical Negligence Compensation Claim Lawyers
Our skin cancer solicitors specialise in personal injury compensation claims and deal with medical negligence cases using contingency fee arrangements, which means you pay nothing if your lawyer does not win your case and obtain compensation on your behalf. Following review of medical records and current symptoms you will be advised whether you have a reasonable claim and if so, what steps you should take to protect your legal rights. If you would like advice at no cost just use the helpline or complete the contact form and a skin cancer solicitor will telephone you with no charge and no obligation.
Our medical negligence solicitors have offices situated in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, and Sydney. Do yourself justice - give us a call.
Our Australian medical negligence lawyers are experts at handling skin cancer misdiagnosis compensation claims. They have dealt with many cases involving misdiagnosis and negligent treatment of skin cancers such as malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
If you or a family member has suffered from a skin cancer misdiagnosis, contact our legal team for accurate and free advice. No Win No Fee legal representation is available for skin cancer medical negligence claims. You could be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of life expectancy, loss of income, medical expenses, nursing and attendant care, domestic assistance.
There are strict time limits in place to make a claim for skin cancer compensation. Call our helpline or complete the contact form without delay.
Skin cancer is the growth of malignant cells in the outer layers of the skin. It is the most common type of cancer. Tens of thousands of people in Australia will be diagnosed with skin cancer every year.
Skin cancer is a highly treatable condition. As many as 95% of cases of skin cancer can be cured. Only 1% of all cancer deaths are caused by skin cancer. This does not mean, however, that skin cancer cannot be deadly.
Malignant melanoma is a rare but very serious form of skin cancer. Of the one million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year, around 60,000 will be melanoma. Its a small percentage, but it accounts for the majority of all skin cancer deaths. If you believe that your condition has worsened as a result of medical negligence, contact our skin cancer solicitors for advice at no cost.
Characteristics that may put a person at risk of developing skin cancer, which includes basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma include :-
- family history of cancer
- unprotected exposure to the sun
- being fair skinned
- blonde or red hair
- green or blue eyes
Physicians should be aware of the early signs of skin cancer and take appropriate action when these symptoms are present. Failure to do so may be medical negligence. The most common signs of skin cancer are when a mole or skin growth :-
- gets larger
- changes color
- has an irregular border
- has a raised surface
When a patient comes to a healthcare professional with any type of skin growth, the growth should be tested for cancer. Healthcare professionals owe their patients a duty of care and that includes detecting skin cancer in its early stages when it is still easily treated. Breach of that duty of care may enable skin cancer solicitors to take legal action to claim compensation.
Skin cancer negligence claims typically involve:
- a partial biopsy is performed which doesn�t capture the most diagnostically relevant part of the lesion.
- a misdiagnosis (for example, a malignant melanoma is misdiagnosed as dysplastic or spitz nevus).
- delay in diagnosis (for example, delay in carrying out a biopsy or delay in referring to a specialist).
- a failure to provide appropriate/correct treatment.
- surgical errors.
- pathology errors.
- a failure on the part of the doctor (General Practitioner, skin cancer specialist, dermatologist) to diagnose the skin cancer. This may be due to overlooking or misinterpreting symptoms and test results.
A delay in making a correct diagnosis and providing the correct treatment means that the cancer is given more time to spread. Cancer cells can multiply quickly and spread through the skin, bloodstream and lymphatic system. The further the cancer spreads throughout the body, the more difficult it becomes to control and treat the cancer. As the cancer invades vital organs such as the lungs, liver and brain, permanent damage occurs, making it more difficult for those organs to function properly. When vital organs are affected, the prognosis for the patient becomes poor and the chance of a cure is lost.
When skin cancer is not detected early, the patient suffers. Delayed treatment can create the need for the surgical removal of the growth and surrounding tissue. It may even require aggressive treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. In the most serious of cases, such as those with melanoma, a delayed diagnosis can be fatal.
Some of the mistakes that can lead to a delayed diagnosis of skin cancer are a failure to :-
- perform a biopsy after removing a skin growth
- check with the patient about any family history of cancer
- properly diagnose the type of skin cancer the patient has
- properly interpret the results of a biopsy or other tests
- follow up with the patient
- refer a patient to an oncologist or dermatologist
- remove a potentially cancerous growth
- recommend skin cancer screening for patients who are at a high risk for developing the disease
Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma is the malignant growth of pigment-forming cells in the skin or in an eye. Occasionally it may occur in mucous membranes such as in the lining of the mouth. Melanoma commonly develops in a pre-existing mole, although it can develop in skin where there isn�t a mole. Melanomas are most often found on the neck, back, arms and legs. The danger of melanoma lies in the fact that it metastasizes early into draining lymph nodes and to distant vital organs like the liver, lungs, bowel and brain. A strong family history is a significant increased risk factor for melanoma.
Australia has the world�s highest rate of skin cancer and melanoma, but the incidence varies from State to State, with QLD being particularly affected due to its close proximity to the equator. Fair-skinned persons are particularly prone to developing skin cancer, probably due to a relative lack of protection by melanin pigment.
Fair-skinned and red-headed people, who live in sunny tropical or subtropical climates, should take preventative measures when exposed to sunlight. When outdoors they should wear protective clothing, broad brimmed-hats, and apply sunscreen lotion.
Patients should have regular skin check-ups, and see their doctor if they experience any itching, crusting, ulceration, bleeding or other changes in their moles or other spots. A doctor may recommend that a biopsy be performed. Surgical excision of early lesions is the best chance of a cure. Surface level lesions (measured as a Level 1 on Clark�s Levels) generally have a good prognosis. Level 5 lesions are melanomas that have completely penetrated all skin levels, with likely metastasis, which means prognosis is very guarded.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
A BCC is a type of cancer that usually occurs in skin that has been constantly exposed to sunlight over many years. Most BCCs occur on the face because the skin of the face is most constantly exposed to the sun. The next most common sites are on the skin of the neck, the backs of the hands or forearms, lower legs, chest, shoulders and back.
BCCs grow slowly. A BCC is usually first noticed as a small, crusty patch or pearly grey nodule or an ulcer on the skin surface. If left untreated, the BCC can grow causing damage to underlying cartilage, bones and blood vessels. For example, a BCC on the face can invade the paranasal sinuses and may even erode into the brain.
Small superficial BCCs can be treated with cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen spray). Sometimes small BCCs are removed by dermatologists using cauterisation or a small curette. Larger and deeper BCCs need to be removed through surgery under local anaesthetic.
The tissue that is removed should be sent to a pathologist to confirm that it is a BCC and that it has been adequately excised with an adequate margin of normal tissue. Radiotherapy is used sometimes as an alternative to surgery, especially in elderly patients and where the BCC is located in a difficult place.
If a BCC has recurred after previous attempts at treatment or if the BCC occurs close to vital structures such as a lacrimal duct or in an eyelid, specialist attention should be sought. Some BCCs should be left to experienced specialists because errors in diagnosis or incomplete removal can lead to more serious problems. Large BCCs invading bone or other tissues may require extensive surgery, including reconstructive surgery by specialists in this area.
Advanced lesions can become incurable and are probably best treated by palliative radiotherapy. BCCs are easily curable and treated if caught early. A delay in diagnosis and incorrect treatment can be disastrous for the patient.
If you are concerned that you have received improper or inadequate treatment of a basal cell carcinoma, you should seek legal advice. A negligent delay in diagnosis and/or negligent treatment of a basal cell carcinoma can have serious effects on your health and prognosis. Speak with our legal team today to find out about your rights to medical negligence compensation.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
SCCs most commonly occur on the skin of the face, especially on the lower lip and the lower part of the face. They can also be found on the neck, the backs of the hands or forearms, or skin of other areas frequently exposed to sunlight such as the chest, back and lower legs.
A SCC usually appears as a small painless, crusty, lump growing on the surface of the skin or as an ulcer. As they grow, they can invade tissue causing ulceration, pain and bleeding. SCCs usually grow faster than BCCs. Unlike BCCs, an SCC tends to metastasize (spread) into lymph nodes, and into more distant tissues or organs.
The earlier an SCC is diagnosed and treated, the less invasive and radical treatment needed, and the greater the chance of a cure. With small lesions, it may be best to perform an excision biopsy (i.e the whole lesion is taken). For larger lesions it is often more appropriate that an incision biopsy is conducted. This is where a small piece of tissue is taken from the edge of the lesion and sent for microscopic examination. Sometimes it is appropriate that a frozen section examination of the biopsy specimen is ordered so that complete treatment is carried out without delay.
Very superficial SCCs (known as Bowen�s disease) can be treated effectively by photodynamic therapy or cryotherapy. However, invasive or potentially invasive SCCs in skin will usually need surgical excision or sometimes radiotherapy.
Where lymph nodes are enlarged, they may need to be removed and examined histologically. If an SCC is very advanced, invading vital organs, it may be incurable. However, it may still be appropriate to use anti-cancer drugs and radiotherapy as part of a palliative-care program.
Skin Cancer Solicitors
It is vital that skin cancers are correctly diagnosed as early as possible, to ensure early treatment and best possible chance of a cure. If you have concerns about your skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, you should seek advice from a medical negligence solicitor. Similarly, if you have lost a loved one to skin cancer, and you suspect that they did not receive appropriate medical treatment, you should speak with a medical negligence skin cancer solicitor to find out whether legal action can be taken for wrongful death.
Contact our free legal helpline or complete the contact form to receive free advice from our legal team.
Skin Cancer Medical Overview
Skin cancer involves the abnormal growth of skin cells. There are many types of skin cancer, some of which metastasize and some of which do not metastasize. This means that there are dangerous kinds of skin cancer and those that are much less dangerous.
The cause of skin cancer is mostly sun exposure although there can be hereditary causes of skin cancer and skin cancer unrelated to sun exposure. The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell cancer which never metastasizes. Melanoma is much more rare than other types of skin cancer but because it metastasizes readily, it does is considered highly dangerous.
Basal cell cancer comes from abnormal growth of the lower layers of the epidermis. It forms dome-shaped, pearly lesions that can be removed through surgery alone. It is most common on the face. Squamous cell carcinoma involves abnormal growth of the middle layer of the skin or the squamous cells. It forms scaly lesions that can metastasize of left untreated long enough. It is most common on the face and on the arms and hands. Malignant melanoma involves cancer of the pigment cells or melanocytes of the skin. It is one of the more dangerous types of skin cancer and the most dangerous of the three main types of cancer. It metastasizes readily and leads to death if not picked up quickly.
Other unusual types of skin cancer are of the nonmelanoma variety and include Kaposi Sarcoma, cutaneous lymphoma and Merkel cell cancer.
Skin cancer happens to be the most common cancer in the US. Risk factors for skin cancer include having light skin, fair hair and light eyes. Family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, means you might have an increased risk of having melanoma. The nonmelanoma types of skin cancer are more common in those past the age of 40. Sun exposure and sunburn put a person at risk of all types of skin cancer. In fact, UV radiation is considered the primary reason behind getting any type of skin cancer. Skin cancer can form at any age, especially melanoma, so even teens and children need to be evaluated if they have any suspicious symptoms.
Symptoms of skin cancer depend on the type of cancer you have. You can have waxy, scaly, shiny, rough, firm and red crusting lesions, depending on the type of cancer. If it suspicious-looking, you should seek medical advice and possibly have a biopsy. This is especially true if it is a pigmented lesion. Pay special attention to an asymmetric lesion, a lesion with irregular borders, a lesion with variegated colors and a lesion bigger than the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil. If you have a growth that does not heal or frequently bleeds, seek medical attention. To be on the safe side, you need to use a mirror to look at lesions on the backs of your legs, arms and on your back.
The treatment of skin cancer depends on the type of cancer you have. Surgical excision or even freezing or burning of the lesion is okay for basal cell and squamous cell cancers. You rarely need any further treatment once you are sure the lesion is gone. No radiation or chemotherapy is required. For melanoma lesions, however, you need to have a wide excision that definitely removes every cancerous cell. This involves surgery under local or general anaesthesia. If there is evidence of lymph node involvement or metastatic disease, then radiation or chemotherapy are required to try and kill off the cancer cells.
The prognosis of skin cancer is excellent for squamous cell and basal cell cancer. Many people die, however, from metastatic malignant melanoma. If you reach remission from the disease, you have an 89 percent survival rate after five years.
Prevention of skin cancer involves minimizing the exposure to the skin. This means wearing protective clothing, including long sleeved shirts, pants and a hat. Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm. Use SPF 30 on sun exposed areas at least a half hour before sun exposure. Reapply the sunscreen often. Just because it is winter doesn't mean you shouldn't put on sunscreen, especially on your face.
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here