Skin cancer misdiagnosis claims solicitors near you.
Skin Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer; the most common, if you include non-melanoma cancers, with over 100,000 diagnoses every year in the UK.
As with any cancer, early diagnosis is key to having the best chance of successfully treating the cancer.
In the event that you are misdiagnosed because of negligence, you are likely entitled to make a claim for compensation. Speak to one of MG Legal’s expert medical negligence solicitors today and find out how we can help you, all on a no win no fee agreement.
Skin Cancer, and how it affects you
Skin cancer is, statistically, one of the most treatable and thus, least life-threatening types of cancer. This does, however, belie the two different types of skin cancer, one of which is far less serious than the other.
Non-melanoma skin cancer accounts for the vast majority of all skin cancer and can be split into two main sub-types: Basal Cell, which alone accounts for 75% of all skin cancers, and Squamous Cell skin cancer, which take their name from the type of skin cell the cancer develops from. This type of skin cancer can actually be a mix of the two, although as with any medical condition, this depends from case to case.
Basal cell cancer is highly unlikely to spread, although having one basal cell cancer can increase your risk of developing further basal cell cancers. It is generally caused by exposure to the sun which explains why they are found more commonly in older people, as they have simply had more years of exposure to the sun than a younger person.
Squamous cell cancer accounts for a further 20% of all skin cancers, meaning between Basal and Squamous cell cancers, 95% of all skin cancer can fall into these two “non-melanoma” categories. Squamous cell cancer is also caused by exposure to the sun, but also develops on scar tissue, burn sites including those that are long healed or long-term ulcer sites.
Non-melanoma skin cancer can also begin as a condition called Bowen’s Disease, an early form of slow growing skin cancer. This appears usually as a red, scaly patch on the skin and if it is not treated, it will generally develop into squamous cell cancer.
Squamous cell cancer rarely spread, although in rare cases it has been known to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.
Rarer non-melanoma skin cancers include Merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, T cell lymphoma and Sebacious glad cancer.
Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer, accounting for around 1% of all skin cancers. This condition starts in the skin cells called melanocytes, which can be found under the epidermis, between layers of basal cells. These cells produce melanin, which is the body’s natural UV shield and is also the part of the body that darkens in sun giving you the much sought after “sun tan”.
Melanoma occurs when the melanocytes are exposed to excessive UV radiation (UV light) usually from the sun but also from sunbeds, which causes the melanocytes to mutate or grow out of control. Melanoma alone is the 5th most common cancer in the UK.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis and mortality rates
Skin cancer has the second highest survival rate of all common cancers, after testicular cancer, with a survival rate of ten years of more for all patients being around 87-90% for melanoma. This is vastly increased when you look at rates for survival when the cancer is caught early. It is almost unheard of for anyone to die within 1 year of being diagnosed with melanoma.
Much of skin cancer diagnosis is down to the individual to identify and to bring to the attention of their doctor. Unlike many other forms of cancer, which can cause serious health issues fairly quickly, the symptoms will take a long time to become so severe that obvious medical attention is warranted. One of the most commonly stated pieces of advice is to regularly check for any new blemishes or moles, or to keenly watch any moles that chance size, shape or appearance.
This does not, however, excuse negligence in diagnosing skin cancer. Once you had presented the information to your GP, the first port-of-call with any medical condition, it is for them to identify the risk and to refer you for proper testing. There is a “7 point scale” used by GPs for testing and diagnosis of skin cancer and so, they are obliged to follow this accurately and properly.
You will likely be referred to a specialist who, depending on the nature and apparent urgency of your condition may be a dermatologist, surgeon, oncologist or histopathologist. Treating many cancers is done on a “Multi-disciplinary” basis and so, where is no necessarily set way of referring or treating you.
Testing is limited for skin cancer, with two main methods being used:
Dermoscopy; quite simply looking at your skin under a powerful magnifying glass to visually identify areas of concern.
Biopsy; where a sample of your skin is taken, often the full mole if this is the cause of concern and this is then looked at by a dermatologist or similar specialist, who will decide if there is a growth of cancerous cells or a benign mole or lump.
The above can be unpleasant, but a necessary evil if cancer is to be properly diagnosed.
How does negligence occur?
Almost all negligence in respect of cancer is related to misdiagnosis, which in turn leads to delays in treatment. As the survival rate for early diagnosis is so high, diagnosis of the condition early can often mean that treatment is no more than a cream to rub on the area in question, or a minor operation to remove a limited area of skin around a mole or blemish.
A combination of an early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to ensure survival and even if the cancer is not wholly removed, the prospects of having a second chance to treat the cancer and a longer life are increased by early treatment. So, any missed opportunity to diagnose the condition, is potentially denying the chance of survival, increasing the prospects of more invasive treatments and likely reducing life expectancy.
Negligence occurs when a medical professional at any stage, misdiagnoses your symptoms as something else and either provides or refers you for the incorrect treatment or simply does not treat you at all. If, because of the act of negligence, your symptoms worsen or your condition is missed entirely, you would then be entitled to make a claim for cancer misdiagnosis personal injury compensation.
How is skin cancer misdiagnosed?
Returning to comments above, skin cancer does not produce a clear effect or symptoms to patients, it can be a slow and sometimes minor change in your skin.
An extract from one NHS cancer web-page confirms “we find that most patients who come to us do not have cancer, but another condition”. This means that the majority of people who are given a “two week wait” cancer check appointment, do not have cancer. This does not excuse your GP not sending you for one of these appointments, on the contrary, it means that if in doubt and there are genuine symptoms which your GP cannot confidently diagnose as another condition, your doctor should send you for one of these appointments. Once in this referral system, you should expect to be diagnosed, or to at least have cancer confirmed or ruled out, within a relatively short space of time.
Skin cancer can go unchecked from anything from a few weeks to years. Mistakes can occur at any stage including:
Referrals not occurring, or not occurring quickly enough, to the correct department;
Misdiagnosis of symptoms as another condition or as nothing of concern;
Where tests are incorrectly ordered, meaning the full range of potential conditions is not screened;
Results are misread, or misinterpreted;
Results are not correctly related to the patient;
Treatment is incorrectly prescribed or surgeries improperly carried out.
How much compensation will I receive?
This varies from case to case and your own dedicated personal injury solicitor will assess your case using a combination of expert medical evidence gathered from independent experts, documentation provided by you directly (such as wage slips or receipts for expenses) and various reference materials, including the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines. The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines is a reference book updated every couple of years using awards made by the Court for all types of injury. This book can be found on the desk or in the briefcase of every Solicitor, Barrister and Judge who deals with personal injury.
Your award for your personal injury, also known as General Damages, with any other losses, such as financial losses, is known as Special Damages.
The most common Special Damages include:
Lost Earnings (past, present and future)
Care Costs (both professional and family)
Cost of Future Treatment (including rectification treatment/surgery)
Cost of additional services eg. A cleaner, gardener etc
Before concluding your claim, your expert cancer misdiagnosis compensation solicitor will ensure that every aspect of your claim and all losses are entirely covered and included in your claim. This way we ensure that when you receive your settlement, the money you receive truly reflects the losses and injuries you have suffered.
How long have I got to make a skin cancer misdiagnosis compensation claim?
If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer negligence at the hands of a medical practitioner, then do not hesitate to contact MG Legal’s friendly team of expert medical negligence solicitors. We deal with medical negligence matters on a daily basis, and when you contact our offices, you will speak to a solicitor who empathises with your situation, will listen, and that advise you how we can help you, on a no win no fee basis.
Usually, if you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, then you have three years from the date of the negligence, or from your knowledge that the medical practitioner’s negligence has caused your cancer to be misdiagnosed, or worsen, within which to pursue a claim for compensation. The three year time limit is subject to the Limitation Act 1980, but if you were under 18 years old when the negligence occurs, then you have three years from your 18th birthday within which to make a personal injury claim. If the claim relates to a patient who can’t manage their own affairs because of a mental disability, the 3-year period doesn’t apply until (and unless) they recover from their disability. In both these cases, a parent or other person close to them can make a claim on their behalf.
In relation to timescales for pursuing a medical negligence claim, we always advise our clients that if you are thinking of pursuing a claim for medical negligence compensation, then do so as soon as you can. The reason for this is simply that the Limitation Act can be rather cruel, and despite having a period of 3 years within which you are able to make a claim, what a lot of solicitors do not mention, is that the 3 years time limit is not the time limit you have to advise your solicitor about your medical negligence claim- the 3 years is the time limit to actually issue your claim at court, meaning that if you approach a solicitor very close to the 3 year deadline, then there is every chance that your medical negligence compensation claim will not be accepted. It is wise to put the wheels in motion sooner, rather than later, to avoid being disappointed. If you have any questions or queries, about pursuing a claim for medical negligence, then please feel free to contact our friendly team.
Who pays my legal fees if I make a skin cancer misdiagnosis personal injury claim?
MG Legal’s expert cancer misdiagnosis personal injury claims solicitors believe that if access to justice should not entail up-front costs, legal jargon, and confusing conversations with fussy solicitors who don’t live in the real world. So, if you have suffered a personal injury because of mistakes during a GP’s consultation, routine testing or surgical procedure, as a result of someone else’s negligence, then you should not have to pay up front legal costs to get access to justice.