A 61 year old woman was left with significant scarring that could have been avoided if her skin cancer had not been missed. She was awarded:
While rare, melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that requires a prompt diagnosis and treatment in order to be managed successfully. Learning you have any form of cancer is a terrifying experience but if you believe that there has been a misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis of melanoma so that treatment has been delayed, it is even more difficult cope.
After experiencing medical negligence patients can lose confidence in all doctors and so feel isolated and vulnerable. But this shouldn’t be the case, if you have experienced skin cancer malpractice bringing a medical negligence claim can help you understand what went wrong and receive financial compensation to support your recovery. Here at Your Legal Friend we know that compensation won’t undo the experience you have had but it can help cover future outgoings and support you and your family as you recover.
We have a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors who are experienced in supporting people in a similar situation to you. With their skills and knowledge they could help you receive compensation for a delay in diagnosis of melanoma. They will work on you behalf to secure you the best outcome possible. Throughout your case you will be represented by a specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor who will guide you through the process and support you as we investigate your case.
If you want to make a medical compensation claim for a delay in diagnosing melanoma there is a time limit that you need to be aware of. You will need to bring a case in court within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. ‘Date of knowledge’ is usually the date upon which the melanoma was diagnosed, though it can be sooner.
‘Date of knowledge’ simply means the date that you realised there had been a mistake or that you had been misdiagnosed. Skin cancer claims, like all medical claims, need to be done within the specified time period. While you can make a claim at any point in these 3 years we recommend that you start it sooner rather than later. We know that after being diagnosed with melanoma or another form of skin cancer you’ll want to focus on your recovery. It is always best to instruct your solicitor as soon as you can whilst your symptoms before your diagnosis are clear in your mind and the experience of your treatment and its impact on your family are fresh in your head. The details of your experience can fade. Whilst medical records should be retained by the Hospital for at least 6 years earlier request for records are better.. When you work with us we will do our best to ensure the whole process is as smooth as possible for you.
If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.
Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much
Mrs E. Swaffield
Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of cancer negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a skin cancer negligence case.
That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.
Our skin cancer negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value skin cancer negligence cases.
Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.
Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.
Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.
If you’d like advice as to whether you might be able to pursue a cancer negligence claim, either call our freephone number or submit your details through the form on this page and we’ll be in touch to schedule a phone call at a time that’s convenient for you. If you decide that you’d like to start a claim, one of our medical malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement*, meaning that in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.
The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.
Director of Medical Negligence
Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win
Whatever the nature of your skin cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard skin cancer negligence claims.
With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.
We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.
As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.
You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery. You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.
You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury. To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.
We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss. As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.
The value of your claim comprises:
You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court. These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.
Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.
The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.
If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge. The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case. We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.
If you’ve been affected by skin cancer misdiagnosis it may be possible to make a claim. In order to be successful you will need to demonstrate that you have been let down by the system and did not receive the level of care that you were entitled to. Misdiagnosis of skin cancer, including skin cancer and melanoma, can have serious consequences for the patient’s treatment, as well as their mental wellbeing and financial state.
Skin Cancer misdiagnosis claims can be based on many different factor, including:
Skin cancer compensation depends upon how you personally have been affected by the misdiagnosis and what you personally have lost in terms of earnings and financial costs. All medical claims are given a value based on each individual experience of the patient. As a result, it’s not possible to tell you how much you can expect to receive in missed skin cancer diagnosis compensation at the outset. Our expert team are on hand and will take the time to listen to you r experiences and to understand what you went through. Based on the information you give us we are then able to value your case, reflecting the undue suffering that medical negligence has caused you.
If you believe you have a case for missed skin cancer diagnosis compensation you have 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’. The ‘date of knowledge’ refers to when you first realised that a mistake had been made in your treatment and level of care, this is usually when you are diagnosed with melanoma or another form of skin cancer. For some patients this can be a long time after they first approach their GP with concerns and they could even have started treatment at this point.
The time limits around medical claims can make be confusing. If you would like more information or to see if you are within time to make a claim, we can help you. Our experienced team will be able to use their knowledge to help you pinpoint how long you have to make a claim.
While you do have 3 years to make claim we recommend that you start the process as soon as possible. We realise that this can be a daunting prospect but it can make gathering the evidence to investigate your case easier, giving your compensation for delayed diagnosis claim the best possible chance of success.
Melanoma has become one of the fastest growing types of cancer in the UK, with skin cancer rates now 4 times higher than they were in the 70’s. While this is partly down to improved awareness and early diagnosis, exposure to the sun and holidays to warmer climates are likely to have played a role too. Like other forms of skin cancer, ultraviolet (UV) light is the main factor for melanoma developing. UV light can come from the sun or artificial sources, such as a tanning bed. Repeated sunburn can increase the risk of cancer forming.
There are other melanoma causes too, including:
Skin cancer refers to all cancers that begin in skin cells. Skin cancer is often categorised into two divisions – melanoma and non-melanoma – and is one of the most common cancers in the world. When the term ‘skin cancer’ is used it typically refers to a non-melanoma type. More than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK.
Non-melanoma skin cancer often develops slowly in the upper layers of the skin, the epidermis. It includes basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, which account for 75% and 20% of skin cancers respectively, and other rare types of the disease. Skin cancer often appears on the skin that is regularly exposed to the sun.
Most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light damaging the DNA of the skin cells, resulting in the cells becoming abnormal and cancerous. Those that spend a lot of time in the sun are more likely to develop skin cancer as damage to the skin can occur over time. Repeated sunburnt, either from natural sunlight or artificial sources, such as those used on tanning beds, also increases the risk. The damage UV light causes to the skin can sometimes take years to become cancerous.
Other causes of skin cancer include:
The NHS also lists certain factors that could increase the risk of developing all types of skin cancer including:
The first melanoma signs are often changes to the appearance of the skin. Changes can occur in moles, freckles or simply a patch of skin but it’s often changes to moles that patients notice. Normal moles are usually round or oval, with a smooth edge and no bigger than 6mm. Changes in the size, shape and colour, especially if it happens within a few months, can indicate melanoma. Moles that bleed, itch or are painful should also be looked at by a GP.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma can also be evident in freckles and patches of skin. Melanomas can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the legs, arms, face and back. In rare cases, it can develop in the eye, in this case melanoma symptoms are more likely to be picked up during a routine eye examination, although you may notice changes in your vision beforehand.
Skin cancer signs for non-melanoma do vary slightly depending on the type of cancer you have. The cancer often appears as a lump or discoloured patch of skin that doesn’t heal and typically occurs on areas that are regularly exposed to the sun.
Melanoma is a rare condition that is usually diagnosed with an examination of the area to begin with before being referred to a specialist, in some cases this should happen as quickly as 2 weeks. A specialist will then examine the mole or abnormal skin allowing them to get a diagnosis of melanoma, a biopsy may also be carried out, where part of the mole is removed and tested for cancerous cells.
Diagnosing melanoma may require additional tests, especially if medical professionals believe that it could have spread to other areas of the body. These tests could include:
If you notice any of the signs of skin cancer your first step should be to book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor will examine your skin and should they suspect skin cancer they will refer you to a specialist. Under NHS guidelines you may be referred as quickly as 2 weeks.
A specialist will be able to confirm a skin cancer diagnosis by carrying out a physical examination. They will usually support this diagnosis with a biopsy, where some of the skin cells are removed to be examined under a microscope to view the cancerous cells. During a biopsy, doctors will determine the type of skin cancer you have and the likelihood of it spreading.
It is possible for melanoma to be misdiagnosed. It’s a rare form of skin cancer and this means that many GPs will not see the signs regularly. As a result, they often need to refer patients to a specialist in order to obtain a diagnosis of melanoma. However, if a GP fails to make a referral it can lead to misdiagnose or delayed diagnosis. As melanoma can be aggressive and spread quickly this can have s serious impact on the treatment needed and its success.
Occasionally, even specialists in skin cancer will make a mistake when diagnosing melanoma, missing the signs or reading test results wrong.
The signs and symptoms of skin cancer can be interpreted as less serious conditions, such as eczema. Misdiagnosed skin cancer can be serious, especially if it melanoma, as it means the patient doesn’t begin the treatment they need in order to fight the disease. Without diagnosing skin cancer, the disease can progress and spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat.
Misdiagnosed skin cancer can happen for many reasons, including:
The main treatment option for melanoma is surgery but there are alternatives available and the exact treatment recommended will depend on each patient’s situation. Your care will be the responsibility of a team of experts who will work together to suggest the best treatment for melanoma in your case, considering the type of cancer you have and the stage of cancer, as well as your general health.
Surgery is often used to treat melanoma and typically involves two operations, the first to remove the abnormal mole or skin and the second to remove healthy tissue that was around the area. If the cancer has spread, affecting the lymph nodes in the area, these may also be removed during surgery.
Radiotherapy can be used as treatment of melanoma and it’s often done to complement surgery. It can also be used to relieve the symptoms of advanced melanoma.
Chemotherapy and biological therapy can also be used to treat the disease but usually only if the cancer has reached the later stages and has begun to spread.
Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is usually successful, with more than 90% recovering from the disease following treatment. The main skin cancer treatment is surgery but treatment is recommended on an individual basis, considering how the cancer has developed and the type of cancer you have.
Skin cancer treatment options include:
Surgical excision treatment for skin cancer involves cutting out the cancer along with a margin of healthy tissue to ensure the cancerous tissue is completely removed. It can leave scaring but when done in combination with a skin graft this can be minimised.
This procedure can only be used for the treatment of skin cancer where the cancer is small. It’s similar to surgical excision but uses an electric needle to remove the skin around the cancer area.
Using freezing technology, it is possible to use cold treatment for skin cancer during the early stages of the disease, effectively freezing the cancer and causing that area of the skin to scab and eventually fall off.
If doctors feel that there is a high chance of the non-melanoma skin cancer spreading or if it’s an area where they want to remove as little skin as possible, mohs micrographic surgery may be considered. It removes the tumour in smaller stages, reducing the risk of scarring and minimising the removal of healthy tissue while treating skin cancer by testing each bit of the tissue that has been removed.
In some cases chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, imiguimod cream, radiotherapy, or electrotherapy may be recommended as alternatives, such as when surgery is not an option or has been unsuccessful.
There are several different types of melanoma skin cancer that can have different signs and symptoms and spread at different rates. However, they are usually treated in the same way, with surgery to remove the cancerous cells. Melanoma doesn’t necessarily have to occur on the skin but it’s very rare for it to start in the body.
This is the most common type of melanoma. It is at least risk of spreading to other areas of the body as it grows outwards, rather than downwards, and as a result doesn’t affect the deeper layers of skin initially.
Nodular melanoma can spread quickly if it isn’t diagnosed and treated rapidly. It’s often characterised by a raised area on the skin and is usually dark brown or black in colour. It’s often found on skin that’s only exposed to the sun occasionally and may not develop from a mole that was already there.
More common on areas of the skin that are often exposed to the sun, like the face, lentigo maligna grows outwards in the surface layer of the skin, going deeper into the skin’s layers as it becomes cancerous.
Other types of melanoma do occur but these are rare and include acral lantiginous melanoma and amelanotic melanoma.
Skin cancer can come in different forms and are split into 3 main skin cancer types, including melanoma. The other 2 forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, both of which are referred to as non-melanoma skin cancer. There are other skin cancer types but these are rare and combined account of less than 3% of skin cancer cases in the UK.
Around three quarters of all skin cancer diagnoses are basal cell carcinoma. It’s a very treatable type of skin cancer because it grows slowly and doesn’t usually spread to other parts of the body.
Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma doesn’t usually spread to other parts of the body and grow slowly. Again this means that it is typically simple to treat.
Skin cancer statistics show that around 90% of people diagnosed with melanoma will survive their disease for more than 10 years after diagnosis. However, how treatable the disease is depends on many factors, including the general health of the patient and the type of cancer.
How quickly a patient is diagnosed and begins treatment plays a significant role in the statistics. For instance, almost everyone will survive their cancer for 5 years or more if it’s diagnosed at stage 1. But the figures fall as the cancer develops and spreads. If diagnosed at stage 3 around half of men and women will survive their disease for 5 years of more.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is very treatable and as it does not typically spread quickly, many diagnosed will be completely cured. Through treatment, including surgery, those with non-melanoma are often expected to make a full recovery.