30 May, 2023
Melanoma is a type of cancer that starts in cells in the skin called melanocytes. These cells make a pigment called melanin which gives skin its natural colour. Melanin helps to protect the body from ultraviolet light (UV radiation) from the sun.
Data from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests the global total number of new melanoma cases will reach 413,100 per year by 2030. This is an increase of over 27% on the 324,635 cases registered a decade earlier in 2020.
Melanoma UK recommends that you carry out a regular skin check and inspect any lump, spot and mole using the 'ABCDE' rule which is:
A = Asymmetry.
B = Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges
C = Colour. Multiple colours are a warning sign.
D = Diameter. Moles larger than 5mm is a warning sign.
E = Evolving. Any change in size, shape, colour or elevation or any new symptom is a warning sign.
Clinical negligence claims often arise from the delay in diagnosing malignant melanomas. This is often a result of a GP failing to adequately treat, advise about or refer the suspected malignant melanoma to a specialist.
Where a delay in diagnosis occurs, disputes often surround the extent of the growth progression during the period of delay. There is no exact science to calculate this however experts tend to work this out by back dating the growth rate. The best evidence comes from any documented changes from the patient, therefore when carrying out a skin check, recording the progression of all lesions is important.
There is guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) used by GPs to identify malignant melanomas from benign skin lesions.
These require clinicians to use the weighted 7-point checklist when assessing the lesion:
Major features of the lesion (2 points each):
Minor features of the lesion (1 point each):
If a GP notes a score of 3 or more then they are advised to refer their patient to a specialist using a suspected cancer pathway referral.
At a referral the specialist will check the skin and ask about any changes and may use a magnifying device that lets them look at the skin closely. They may also carry out an excision biopsy where they cut out the mole and a small area of surrounding skin and send it to a lab for testing.
In the event you are unhappy with the response or failure to refer and are unlucky enough to develop a malignancy you may have a case. For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 872 111. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
For advice and support please visit Melanoma UK
For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here