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What might a dermatologist mistake cancer for?

If you have skin cancer, or if you believe that you may, you’re likely going to go see a dermatologist. Perhaps you already have one and you can set the meeting up directly, or you may end up going to your primary care physician first and then getting referred to a dermatologist. Either way, you want them to take a look and tell you what they think.

This means that a missed diagnosis is likely not going to be because they didn’t see the spot at all. In this scenario, you have something specific that you want them to examine. If they do miss that diagnosis, the issue will probably be that they believe the skin cancer is something else. They’ve mistaken it for a less serious issue. What could this be?

A cherry angioma

Issues with blood vessels cause these bright red spots on the skin. They do not hurt and they are relatively smooth. They stand out because they’re so bright. Your dermatologist may think this is what you have when you actually have skin cancer in the early stages, when the spot is still very small.

A common mole

Almost everyone has some type of mole. The problem with these moles is that they can be a variety of colors, and they are not always dark brown or black. Additionally, moles can actually turn cancerous, so your doctor’s mistake may simply be that they think this hasn’t happened when it already has.


A missed diagnosis of acne when you actually have cancer may be most likely when you’re young. Some doctors will make assumptions about what they think a patient may have. It is more likely that a young person will have acne then that they will have skin cancer already, so the doctor may err on that side even though you actually do have skin cancer.

Seborrheic Keratoses

These keratoses are tumors, but they are benign. They often have the scaly look that cancer is known for. For this reason, it is easy for doctors to confuse the two. These are also less common than something like acne or a mole.

No matter what mistake your dermatologist makes, a misdiagnosis can be devastating if the cancer reaches a much more dangerous stage before it is found. If this has happened to you, you need to know about all of your legal options.