Melanoma skin cancer risk, diagnosis, treatment, and medical malpractice
By age 50, men have a higher risk for developing melanoma than women
Studies show that melanoma rates are rising and that men over 50 years old are more at risk than women. Melanoma is a skin cancer that develops from the pigment-containing melanocyte cells.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Some 9,500 patients are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every day. In 2018, nearly 180,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma.
As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have handled cases where patients had classic signs and symptoms of cancer, including melanoma, but were undiagnosed by their physicians. While melanoma can be relatively easily treated if caught early, waiting too long can have devastating consequences.
NBC News recently covered Kelly Leggett’s experience with a mole behind his right ear. He noticed that the mole was getting larger and oozing, but his primary care doctor told him not to worry because he had no other symptoms.
Four years later, Leggett saw a dermatologist because the mole continued to change. After a biopsy, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. A chest x-ray showed that the dangerous cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, spine, lungs, liver, spleen, and pelvis.
White men, like Leggett, who are aged 55 to 64, have an increased risk of developing melanoma and more often have an aggressive form of the disease. After age 55, melanoma rates more than double for men.
Statistics suggest that melanoma rates are rising. Some dermatology experts believe this is because of the higher rates of sun exposure for children who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. The risk of melanoma correlates to the level of sun exposure and blistering sunburns at early ages.
What you can do
To help reduce your risk of developing melanoma, be aware of the danger of sun exposure. Protect your skin by using sunscreen and wearing a hat or light clothing.
If there is any good news about melanoma, it is that it is very treatable when caught early. Check your skin regularly and see a skin specialist—a dermatologist—if you notice a mole that begins to change color or shape. Consider seeing a dermatologist annually for a skin check to establish a baseline and have a professional look for changes.
We are here to help
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by delayed diagnosis or treatment of cancer, our experienced medical negligence attorneys can help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Associates, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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Published in the July/August 2018 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine