In its early stages, melanoma is one of the easiest forms of cancer to treat and patients receiving prompt treatment enjoy a very high rate of survival. The Chicago melanoma attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC specialize in the representation of clients in the State of Illinois who are not as lucky, due to the failure of their doctors to perform the recommended testing at the onset of symptoms to rule out or confirm an accurate diagnosis. When melanoma progresses past its second stage, the survival rate is lowered significantly and patients must undergo more painful treatments due to the spread of their cancers.
Melanoma is a Common, Yet Curable Cancer
While melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men and the seventh among women, it is also highly treatable when discovered early. The ten year survival rate among all those treated for melanoma is 89%, including those whose cancer has progressed to the later stages. With this in mind, it is also the most lethal cancer in the United States, representing only 2% of cases, yet almost 10,000 deaths every year. The reason for this is that once the cancer has progressed to later stages, it becomes almost incurable. Following are the four stages of melanoma.
- Stage I— The very first stage of melanoma occurs when cancer cells are observable but remain on the outer layer of the epidermis. During Stage I, there is very little chance that the cancer will spread, and the five year survival rate for patients diagnosed at this stage is 98%.
- Stage II— Once the cancer has permeated the skin, it has progressed to Stage II. At this point, the melanoma has increased in thickness and density and extended into the dermis, which is the layer of tissue just below the epidermis. While there is a slightly higher chance that the cancer will spread, Stage II patients still see a survival rate of 98%.
- Stage III— When cancer cells reach the lymphatic system, there is great pause for concern because the lymphatic system mobilizes the cancer cells and can carry them to other areas of the body. Melanoma that has reached a lymph node is much more likely to metastasize, lowering the rate of survival to 63%.
- Stage IV— The most serious of the four stages, Stage IV is the result of the movement of cancer cells into the bloodstream, where they can then infiltrate the lungs, brain, bones, liver or gastrointestinal tract. It is extremely difficult to treat Stage IV melanoma due to its ability to move to multiple organs in a short period. Only 16% of patients receiving this diagnosis will live five years past receiving the news.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers believe that it is the duty of every doctor to perform cancer screening whenever patients show initial signs, in order to increase the likelihood of early discovery and improve the chance of survival. When doctors brush off symptoms or do nothing to rule out a diagnosis and the cancer progresses to later stages, it is important to hold them accountable for the consequences of their reckless choices.
How Melanoma is Diagnosed
When encountering a patch of skin that looks suspect, doctors may order a biopsy of the tissue to determine whether it is benign or evidence of a skin condition such as melanoma. While other tests are available to identify the presence of cancerous cells, the only way to confirm the diagnosis is through the complete removal of the abnormality for examination. This can usually be done in the doctor’s office through the use of a local anesthetic to numb the area before removing the mole, bump or discolored patch of skin. If there is reason to suspect that the melanoma may have progressed, doctors can order an ultrasound, MRI or PET scan to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the dermis into other areas of the body.
Protect Your Right to Responsible Care
It is unacceptable to think of the loss of life that occurs due to the simple refusal of physicians to conduct tests that may save your life or make your treatment easier and less painful. When your doctor fails to diagnose a condition such as melanoma and it worsens, you are entitled to receive compensation so that you can afford the best treatment available to maximize your chance of survival, and if the failed diagnosis results in the loss of a loved one, you can file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented thousands of clients in medical malpractice matters and our award winning legal team can maximize your claim so that you can focus on your recovery rather than your finances.
Contact us today to speak with one of our Chicago melanoma attorneys for a free review of your case and to learn more about your legal options. If we cannot collect compensation on your behalf, our services will be free.