Last Updated on June 3, 2024

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

You may have grounds to sue for a medical malpractice claim if a negligent healthcare provider fails to diagnose your cancer on time. Squamous cell carcinoma can be misdiagnosed as other less severe skin conditions. This effectively delays all necessary medical treatments for the disease.

If left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can grow and spread quickly. The actual rate at which this type of cancer spreads can vary depending on factors; such as the location of the tumor, its size, and the patient’s immune system. Starting treatments at earlier stages – while the disease is still weak and has not developed – offers the best chance at beating cancer. Early diagnosis is the first crucial factor in winning against squamous cell carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in the US. More than 1 million incidents of this disease are diagnosed in the US annually.

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What Can Be Mistaken for Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Negligent medical professionals may mistake your cancer for the following less serious conditions:

Actinic Keratosis– Rough, scaly patches on sun-exposed skin
– Pink, red, or brown in color
– Usually not painful or tender
Seborrheic Keratosis– Waxy, scaly, slightly raised growths
– Tan, brown, or black in color
– Appear "stuck on" the skin
Psoriasis– Red, scaly patches with silvery-white scales
– Can be itchy or sore
– Often on elbows, knees, and scalp, but can occur anywhere
Eczema– Dry, itchy, cracked skin
– Red to brownish-gray patches
– May blister or ooze
Warts– Rough, grainy bumps
– Flesh-colored, white, pink, or tan
– Often appear on hands and feet
(Tinea Corporis)
– Red, scaly, circular patches
– Slightly raised borders
– Clearer in the center, giving a ring-like appearance

The symptoms of the above conditions is typically similar to early signs of squamous cell carcinoma such as the following:

  • Rough/scaly discolored patches (which might crust or bleed)
  • Lumps or raised growths (sometimes with a concaved center)
  • Open sores that recur or don’t heal (may have oozing or crusted areas)
  • Wart-like growths

Squamous cell cancers commonly occur on sun-exposed skin in light-skinned individuals, typically in parts such as the face, ear, neck, lip, and back of the hands. This disease is less common in darker-skinned individuals. But when they do appear, they are more likely to develop in areas not frequently exposed to the sun.

For your safety, it is advised that you seek medical attention as soon as you notice any new, unusual, or persistent changes to your skin. However, doing so does not guarantee that your cancer will be diagnosed properly. 

Survival Rates

When caught and treated early, squamous cell carcinoma has a high survival rate. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to achieving the best possible outcome. Regular skin self-exams and professional skin checks can help catch it early when it is most treatable. Protecting your skin from UV exposure prevents this disease from developing. 

The per-stage survival rates for squamous cell carcinoma are as follows:

STAGE5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized (Stage 1 or 2)99%
Regional (Stage 3)99%
Distant (Stage 4)50%

Even if squamous cell carcinoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes (meaning Stage 3), the cancer may be effectively treated through a combination of treatments. However, once the disease has metastasized (meaning Stage 4), the survivability effectively drops by half.

Screening tests are needed to confirm the presence of such cancers. Healthcare providers must prescribe such tests promptly also. Failing to do so could constitute medical malpractice.

Treatments and Expenses

When treating different types of skin cancers, different approaches are necessary. Fortunately, most of these cancers and pre-cancers can be cured with minor surgery or other types of local treatments. Conventionally speaking, treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma include: 

With the need for complementary treatments, medical bills can pile up easily. According to the National Cancer Institute, upwards of $200 billion is spent by cancer patients annually. The estimated per-patient cost for these treatments is subdivided into three phases. Given the lack of data on squamous cell carcinoma, the annual per-patient costs to treat cancer (all sites considered) are as follows:

Medical ServicesPrescription Drugs
Initial Care (1st year after diagnosis)$43,516$1,874
Continuing Care (time in between)$5,518
per year
per year
End-of-Life Care (last year before passing away)$109,727$4,372

All medical expenses (past and future) are accounted for in all medical malpractice claims. Apart from medical bills, other economic and non-economic losses are also factored in – 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 a Claim and Compensation

Four key elements must first be pinpointed and established before any claim is rendered valid. Medical malpractice experts typically work with trusted medical consultants during this initial investigation. These four key elements are:

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?

Apart from establishing your claim, the responsibilities of your cancer malpractice lawyer include gathering pieces of evidence; officially filing your case; and negotiating for your compensation.

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 June 3, 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 June 3, 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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