Last Updated on May 21, 2024

Can I Sue If I've Been Diagnosed with Melanoma Skin Cancer Late?

Patients may be eligible to sue medical staff if their melanoma skin cancer is diagnosed late. Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the US. Melanomaa type of skin cancer that begins in melanocyte cells – is notably the most dangerous among all skin cancers. While it accounts for only 1% of all skin cancers, it causes a big majority of all skin cancer-related deaths yearly. As such, negligent healthcare professionals/facilities who have contributed to diagnostic delays may be sued for medical malpractice.

Melanoma can grow quickly and can be life-threatening if not treated early. This type of skin cancer can spread to other body organs also. According to the American Cancer Society, about 100,640 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2024.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Late Diagnosis

Distant melanomas (stage 4) can be incurable and would require very expensive treatments. Early detection is undeniably the most crucial factor when battling this type of skin cancer. A couple of studies have found that the majority of delayed melanoma diagnoses were caused by patients’ lack of urgency (after experiencing initial symptoms). While this may be the case, many other cases of missed diagnoses are caused by negligent healthcare providers.

Among the common medical errors made by negligent healthcare providers include:

  • Proceeding with unnecessary medical treatments
  • Improper patient education on the urgency of their condition
  • Delays in providing referrals
  • Delays in ordering screening tests

Given the landscape of misdiagnosis for this particular type of cancer, extensive medical investigation is required to establish a claim. Reach out to medical malpractice experts as soon as possible to get your case started.

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Survival Rate and Treatment Options for Melanoma

Melanoma is a highly treatable disease when detected early, with its 5-year relative survival rate at 94% (with all stages considered). Naturally, cases that are diagnosed late and left untreated have lower survival rates. Per-stage survival rates for melanoma are as follows:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)99%
Regional (Stage 3)74%
Distant (Stage 4)35%

Notice how the survival rate plummets for cases that are diagnosed late. Negligent doctors effectively jeopardize the health of their patients by allowing the disease to progress, rendering it more difficult to treat. This is the very reason why such providers must be held liable.

Prescribed treatments for melanoma vary also depending on the stage of the disease. When allowed to develop into their later stages, melanoma typically requires multiple complementary treatments. Conventional treatments for melanoma include:

Medical bills can quickly pile up because of these treatments. All medical bills (past and present) should be compensated by the at-fault doctor/facility. Let’s study this further in the next segment.

Compensation for Late Diagnosis of Skin Cancer 

According to the National Cancer Institute, upwards of $200 billion will be spent annually by US cancer patients for medical treatments starting 2020. When estimating per-patient medical expenses, they have identified three distinct phases – initial care, continuing care, and end-of-life care.

The annual per-patient expenses for melanoma skin cancer are as follows:

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care (1st year after diagnosis)$8,537$625
Continuing Care (time in between)$2,707
per year
per year
End-of-Life Care (last year before passing away)$78,912$3,956

Accounting for your compensation is one of your legal counsel’s responsibilities. Apart from medical expenses, other economic and non-economic losses are also considered. Lost income, emotional trauma, and decreased quality of life are some of the more common inclusions. Please refer to our previous wins for actual cancer misdiagnosis compensation figures.

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Establishing Your Medical Malpractice Claim

As said earlier, an extensive initial investigation is required before a medical malpractice case may be established. This investigation is typically conducted with trusted medical consultants. Said investigation aims to establish the following key elements:

Duty of Care – Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – Did your doctor perform poorly/negligently based on accepted standards of care?
Causation – Did your doctor’s actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
Damages – What did these errors cost you?

Any relevant pieces of evidence must be requested by your respective legal counsel. Only evidence procured this way may be usable in court. Should your legal team feel confident about the case after the initial investigation, your lawyer will proceed with formally filing the case. They are also responsible for negotiating settlements/compensations further down the line. 

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At the Porter Law Group, our team of proven medical malpractice lawyers delivers ideal results. We take pride in helping families rebuild after unfavorable circumstances.  We operate on a contingency basis – meaning you do not need to pay us anything unless we win your case. Through this approach, we can better support families during their times of need.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, please reach out to us for a non-obligatory free case evaluation. You can also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or to schedule a consultation.

Written By
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
Legally Reviewed on May 13, 2024
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on May 13, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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