In many cases, skin cancer is very treatable when it’s found early. Doctors can potentially perform a minor operation after a biopsy and remove the infected area. It may not have spread very far and all of the tissue can potentially be removed in the wake of early detection.
However, a delay in diagnosis – or a missed diagnosis entirely – can derail this process. Extra time allows skin cancer to spread. In some cases, this makes it much more difficult to treat and it could even become a fatal condition. Why do these misdiagnoses happen? What do doctors mistake cancer for?
Minor skin conditions
There are different types of skin cancer that have to be considered, but they can be mistaken for various minor conditions. One example is basal cell carcinoma, which is often shiny and reddish or pink in color. Some doctors may just believe that it’s an acne scar or a skin injury. They could advise that it will heal with time, while the spot actually continues to get larger.
Oftentimes, different types of skin cancer are confused with pimples. Someone may think that they have acne that just is taking a long time to heal. Red or pink color could indicate that a spot is cancer, but a small spot may look very similar to acne under the surface of the skin.
Darker cancer patches can sometimes be confused with moles, birthmarks and other things of this nature. It’s very important for a doctor to consider if a particular spot is asymmetrical or not. A lack of symmetry can sometimes indicate that melanoma cancer is present.
What options do you have?
When you first get the diagnosis that you have a minor skin condition like acne, warts, scarring or even something like psoriasis, you may be happy to discover that it’s not cancer. You could spend months or even years attempting treatment for the condition that you believe you have, such as using anti-acne face creams.
Unfortunately, if the underlying diagnosis is incorrect, a delay in a sound diagnosis could cause cancer to spread and become very serious. When this happens, it’s important to know if the situation constitutes medical malpractice because, if so, you may have legal options available to you as you move forward.