Protecting Your Rights

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Misdiagnosis and late diagnosis of skin cancer

| Jun 21, 2021 | Failure To Diagnose, Medical Malpractice

Skin cancer is a common problem, and it can be a deadly one. People in North Carolina, and across the country, should be screened regularly. Sometimes, an asymmetrical spot or one that has grown larger can be melanoma. Malignant melanomas account for three-quarters of skin cancer fatalities. However, physicians and even AI programs often miss diagnoses of melanoma in people of color. This can have serious consequences for their health.

Looking at the numbers

African Americans are less likely than white people to develop melanoma. In effect, their skin tone and increased melanin give them some sun protection. However, when they do develop melanoma, it is more likely to be fatal for them than for other groups like Whites, Asians or Hispanics. There are several reasons for this.

White people, for example, most often develop skin cancers in the core area. Black people are more likely to develop them on limbs like their legs. Physicians need to be informed about this, so that they can properly screen people. Black Americans also tend to develop different types of tumors than other Americans. Failure to diagnose these early can lead to serious illness or even death.

Another issue is that training materials, even the images used to train AI, are mostly focused on light-skinned patients. AI with higher than average accuracy in diagnosing light-skinned people is deficient when it comes to diagnosing Black Americans.

If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed or diagnosed late, it’s wise to contact a lawyer. An experienced attorney may be able to help you hold a physician or hospital accountable for the error. Equally importantly, taking action may help prevent such failures for others in the future.