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Ipswich: Delays in skin cancer diagnosis

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 May 2014

Julie Crossley of Ashton KCJ

Julie Crossley of Ashton KCJ

Archant

Legally Speaking with Ashton KCJ

Statistics from Cancer Research UK show a surge in the number of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma in recent years. More than 13,000 people develop malignant melanoma each year, compared with around 1,800 in the mid-1970s.

This increase is partly due to the rising popularity of package holidays abroad and partly to over exposure to the sun or use of sunbeds.

According to Cancer Research UK, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than any of today’s ten most common cancers. It is now the fifth most common cancer, with more than 2,000 people dying from it each year.

If melanoma is diagnosed early enough, the chances of cure are normally good. Early diagnosis can make a huge difference to the outcome as cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

We see all too many clients who have not been diagnosed or treated early enough. Whilst delays may be caused by a patient’s reluctance to seek medical advice, in some cases, a delay is caused by poor awareness of melanoma among medical professionals.

For example, we dealt with a claim brought by a diabetic gentlemen who had a non-healing foot ulcer.

Over the course of three years, the ulcer on his little toe mushroomed which led to amputation of his fourth and fifth toes.

Despite repeated courses of antibiotics and hospital reviews, his wound remained raw and unhealed.

Eventually melanoma was spotted by a surgeon during an unrelated hospital visit.

Unfortunately, by this stage the cancer had spread to his lungs and spine. He underwent further amputation and courses of palliative chemotherapy. Sadly, in this case, the diagnosis came too late.

A delay in diagnosis of melanoma, or any form of cancer, can be disastrous and sometimes fatal. Our role as clinical negligence specialists is to identify whether a delay in diagnosis was negligent.

If the evidence suggests there was an unreasonable delay in diagnosis, we will investigate what the effect of that delay has been on the patient and on the progression of the disease.

Whilst we can never put right what has happened, in many of the cases we deal with, we are able to obtain compensation to put the patient in the same financial position they would have been in if the negligence had not occurred.

This may include loss of earnings and pension loss, and the cost of care.

For the majority of the clients we represent, however, the aim behind seeking compensation is less about the financial aspect and more about preventing the same thing from happening to another family in the future.

For individual advice, please contact Julie Crossley.

Julie Crossley

Associate

Ashton KCJ Solicitors

T: 01473 849950

E: julie.crossley@ashtonkcj.co.uk

www.ashtonkcj.co.uk

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.

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