Squamous cell skin cancer is generally considered to be the lesser evil when compared to malignant melanoma. However, a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association -Dermatology (JAMA – Derm) points out that a delay in diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma can be fatal for some patients.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is common and getting more common. Here are some quick facts:
- Carcinoma of the skin is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In fact more cases of it occur than all other cancers combined.
- More than two million people are diagnosed annually.
- One in five Americans will develop one form or another in their lifetime.Squamous cell carcinoma is generally slower to spread (“metastasize”) than malignant melanoma and, therefore, considered less dangerous. However, the JAMA-Derm article points out that some squamous cell carcinomas are riskier than others. These include: (1) large size tumor (2) poor differentiation and deep invasion on microscopic pathology exam (3) location on the temple, ear, anus or genitals. Patients with these risk factors will require careful evaluation of treatment options. Identification of these risk factors has serious implications since treatment of squamous cell carcinoma increased by nearly 80 percent between 1992 and 2006.
I have previously written about medical negligence claims involving a delay in diagnosis of malignant melanoma. The same analysis applies with misdiagnosis and delayed treatment of squamous cell carcinoma: early diagnosis and treatment saves lives. Diagnosis can be delayed by misinterpreted or misreported pathology, mishandled or mis-labeled slides and related lab errors, lost pathology reports or failure to communicate abnormal results, and failure to properly screen high risk patient populations. When such mistakes occur, and harm results, a claim for medical malpractice may exist under Ohio law.