According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (US). The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell. Both of those cancers have a high cure rate, whereas the third form of skin cancer, melanoma, does not. Each year, approximately 59,695 people in the US are diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and 8,623 of them die due to melanoma of the skin. It is estimated that 65%-90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Since no one knows your sun habits or skin better than you, the first step in diagnosing skin cancer may lie with you. People who are more prone to developing skin cancer are those that:
- Have fair skin, blond or red hair, blue or light colored eyes, or freckles
- Have numerous moles on their body
- Have a family history of skin cancer
- Had a history of excessive sun exposure
- Had one or more blistering sun burns
- Had visited tanning salons. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified tanning beds in its highest cancer risk category and if you are under the age of 30 and visit tanning beds your skin cancer risk increases by 75%.
- Have a history of actinic keratosis or pre-cancer lesions
- Have a personal history of basal cell or squamous cell cancers
- Have a personal history of dysplastic nevi or strange looking moles
If you fit into any one of these high risk skin cancer categories you should be checking your skin for anything that may look suspicious for skin cancer or any mole that starts to look a little different than usual. It is also a good idea to start visiting your dermatologist for annual skin check-ups. If you are concerned about a changing mole or suspicious skin lesion but you doctor is not, do not hesitate to get a second opinion from another doctor. If you undergo a biopsy of a skin lesion you will want to make sure you promptly find out the results. If the skin biopsy, excision or other any surgical procedure shows that you do have skin cancer ask if the pathology report shows clean margins and none of the cancer was left behind.
The first line of responsibility in diagnosing and treating skin cancer may lie with you. If you see anything suspicious on your skin you must go and have it evaluated. After alerting a dermatologist or doctor that you noticed a change in your skin, mole or freckle it then becomes the responsibility of the health care provider to conduct the appropriate tests, biopsies or surgical procedures to promptly diagnose and treat any skin lesions that are cancerous. A failure to diagnose and treat skin cancer can lead to extensive surgical excisions, profound disfigurement and a decrease in your life expectancy.
If you or a loved one is suffering due to a delay in diagnosing or properly treating skin cancer please feel free to contact one of our experienced failure to diagnose cancer lawyers, doctors or nurses at 1.800.588.1030 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.