About Melanoma Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is abnormal growth of your skin cells. Primarily, skin cancer develops on body parts you have exposed to the sun — such as your scalp, ears, face, lips, neck and chest, arms, or hands. Women may also develop skin cancer on their legs.

You can get melanoma anywhere on your body. Melanoma can form in normal-looking skin or develop in an existing mole. In men, melanoma tends to show up on the face or torso. In women, melanoma usually shows up on the lower legs.

The Mayo Clinic lists these possible signs of melanoma: (1)

  • A large, brownish spot with darker speckles.
  • A mole changes in color, feel, or size, or it bleeds.
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and portions appearing pink, white, red, blue, or blue-black.
  • An itchy or burning painful lesion.
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your nose, mouth, anus, or vagina.

Melanoma can also form on areas you rarely expose to the sun, including your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, or your genital area. (2)

Melanoma Skin Cancer Statistics

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.” (3) There are three major types — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. (4) “At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.” (5)

Millions of adults are treated each year for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. In addition, thousands of people a year are diagnosed with melanoma.

Nearly 85,700 new cases of melanomas of the skin were reported in the U.S. in 2017. Of these, over 8,000 people died from this cancer. (6)

In New York alone, almost 4,200 cases of melanoma were reported. And 400 people died of this cancer in 2017. (7) (8)

Over the past decade, the number of new invasive melanoma cases has been rising. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2021 is expected to increase by 5.8%. Also, the number of deaths from melanoma is expected to increase by 4.8%. (9)

Basal cell carcinoma statistics: This is the most common form of skin cancer. Each year, roughly 3.6 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. (10)

Squamous cell carcinoma statistics: This is the second most common form of skin cancer. Roughly 1.8 million cases are diagnosed each year across the country and it kills over 15,000 people in the U.S. annually. (11)

Consequences of Misdiagnosis

If you or a loved one developed malignant melanoma and was misdiagnosed, your 5-year survival rate drops depending on how far your disease has spread.

The earlier your melanoma is diagnosed correctly, the better your overall prognosis. Overall survival after 5 years depends on many factors: (12)

  • The thickness of your primary melanoma — your outlook is better if it is thinner.
  • If your melanoma spread to distant sites — your outlook is better if it has not spread.
  • If your lymph nodes, which help fight infection, were involved — your outlook is better if they are healthy.

“Many people with melanoma are cured by their initial surgery.” (13) A false negative misdiagnosis may “translate to a reduced chance of survival for some patients.” (14)

If you suffered serious injury because of a skin cancer misdiagnosis, you may be able to sue for damages.

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Melanoma Survival Rate

Getting the correct early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma could have made all the difference for you. A delay in correct diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

Delaying the correct diagnosis and treatment of stage 1 melanoma by just one month increases your risk of dying by 5%. Further delay of a correct diagnosis and treatment increases your risk of dying dramatically — waiting 119 days to begin treatment poses a 41% higher risk. (15)

If melanoma has spread to your lymph nodes when you are diagnosed, your survival rate is only about 66%. If melanoma has metastasized to distant organs by the time you are diagnosed correctly, your chance of surviving falls to just 27%. (16)

In children, treatment of melanoma is frequently “delayed due to misdiagnosis of pigmented lesions, which occurs up to 40 percent of the time.” (17)

What Makes a Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?

Sometimes medical professionals fail to meet their duty of care. If they do and you suffered serious complications because of misdiagnosed, untreated skin cancer, you may have a case of medical malpractice. Speak with an experienced, reputable attorney about your legal options.

A big part of your case involves negligence. Did your health care provider’s conduct fall short of what is considered a reasonable standard of care? (18)

Your attorney must show your doctor acted negligently in the care you received and you were injured as a result. Your attorney must prove your health care provider: (19)

  • Owed you a professional duty.
  • Breached the professional duty.
  • You were injured due to your health care provider’s breach of that duty.
  • You deserve to be compensated.

Working with Your Attorney

When you hire an attorney to handle your case of medical malpractice, your attorney files an allegation of medical negligence according to your state’s statute of limitations. Your attorney also handles all legal matters on your behalf.

In addition, your attorney explains how the legal process works and what happens as you move forward. You can ask your attorney any questions about your situation and your case. Your attorney does everything allowable to achieve appropriate compensation on your behalf.

Are you or a loved one suffering due to a skin cancer misdiagnosis? You may be eligible for compensation.

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How W&L Can Help

The legal system is complex. Medical malpractice laws vary from state to state. If your injury occurred in New York, hire someone with a high-quality reputation for handling medical malpractice cases in New York.

Weitz & Luxenberg is such a law firm. We have over three decades of know-how handling personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice cases in New York. We are based out of Manhattan but handle cases all over the state and around the country.

We also have a solid history of winning medical malpractice cases. Here are just a couple examples:

  • $500,000 settlement — A young woman suffered irreparable damage to her uterus because she was misdiagnosed. She had an IUD implanted and had complications. Time and again, she visited the Emergency Room (ER). She was misdiagnosed, suffered debilitating and life-threatening complications, and underwent multiple surgeries.
  • $2.2 million settlement — A young woman died due to a misdiagnosis. She underwent a tonsillectomy performed by a specialist. She later reported to an ER because her throat hurt and she had difficulty swallowing. Health care providers at the ER misdiagnosed her and provided the wrong treatment. They discharged her even though she wasn’t any better. Within just two days, she died from internal bleeding because her surgical wound had ruptured.