• Ranked in Chambers & Legal 500 for Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
  • Featured in the Times Top Law Firms 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023 for Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
  • In 2022 alone, we were successful in securing over £91 million in damages for our clients

Skin cancer and melanoma misdiagnosis

If you’ve experienced a delay or mistake in the diagnosis of skin cancer or melanoma that has affected your quality of life, the expert solicitors at Potter Rees Dolan are here to help you and your family secure compensation for your suffering and any impact the mistake has had on your future.

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is frightening and the situation is even more stressful if you know that your cancer hasn’t been diagnosed quickly enough, or that treatment has been delayed due to negligence on the part of a healthcare professional.

A late diagnosis could mean reduced treatment options and potentially could affect your prognosis, which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to investigate a claim if you have been put in this position. Our legal team will help you obtain answers and get the financial and emotional support you need to improve your quality of life, and to provide for you and your family in the future.

If you would like to speak to us about a skin cancer misdiagnosis claim, call us today on 0800 027 2557. If you’d like to send us an email instead, fill out the online contact form on this page and a member of our team will be in touch.

How can skin cancer and melanoma be exacerbated by medical negligence?

Dealing with skin cancer or melanoma effectively relies on identifying and treating it quickly. Sometimes, the standard of medical care you would expect from your healthcare professional falls short of what you are entitled to, which can result in serious consequences.

Examples of medical negligence relating to skin cancer include:

  • Failure to diagnose symptoms of skin cancer within a reasonable period of time and before it becomes more difficult to cure/manage
  • Failure to remove cancerous lesions fully
  • Failure to refer you to a specialist
  • Failure to properly conduct and/or report skin cancer biopsies and tests

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer falls into three main categories:

Malignant melanoma - this cancer affects the pigment cells and the skin around them, and may also spread to other areas such as the lymph nodes, liver and lungs.

Squamous cell carcinoma - this is a non-melanoma skin cancer, and is the second most common type of skin cancer in the UK.

Basal cell carcinoma - another form of non-melanoma skin cancer that accounts for more than 80% of all skin cancer cases in the UK.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and it is currently on the rise, with more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed every single year in this country.

How can Potter Rees Dolan help?

We’ve earned a reputation as one of the very best clinical negligence legal firms in the country. Besides obtaining results for our clients, the compassion and dedication that our team demonstrates in their day-to-day work sets us apart from other law firms.

Potter Rees Dolan specialises in helping people with serious injuries and disabilities, so you can rest assured that you will deal with experienced solicitors who aim to make the whole claims process as stress-free as possible for you and your loved ones.

Helen Dolan, head of the department, has been praised in the prestigious Chambers 2019 legal guide as someone who “regularly handles complex claims”, with one client lauding “her attention to detail and knowledge of the case, inside and out”.

The same publication said Lesley Herbertson “is very good on the complex details of the case and is able to translate this to clients”.

Meanwhile, Gill Edwards is described as being "incredibly good with clients - they really warm to her", with one source saying: "She is very good on the medical details."

Additionally, our entire clinical negligence department garnered further praise from Chambers 2019, describing them as “a well-regarded team with an impressive caseload of complex clinical negligence work”.


We can fund your case on a “no win, no fee basis”. If for some reason we aren’t successful in securing compensation for your claim, you won’t owe us a penny.

If you have an insurance policy that can cover legal expenses, we’ll let you know whether you can use it to fund your case. If not, we’ll explain why we can’t use your existing insurance and put in place a “no win, no fee” arrangement instead.

What happens next

When we take on your case, we’ll discuss all the circumstances around your case in detail and help you understand if we are able to proceed or not. If we can show that you have a claim, we will help you gather all the evidence we will need in support, working with you to ensure you have the best chance of recovering all the compensation you need and deserve.

As we’re gathering evidence, we will obtain your medical records. Once we have them and have considered them in detail, we’ll work with independent experts to argue how you have been a victim of clinical negligence on your behalf. After that, we’ll initiate court proceedings to recover compensation as quickly as we can.

We’ll also try to explore opportunities for interim payments to be made, or even to settle your case early for an appropriate amount of compensation where possible.

Contact us today

Find out how we can help by contacting us on 0800 027 2557. If you’d prefer to speak to us over email, visit our dedicated contact page. If there’s somebody specific you’d like to speak to, please find their profile on our people page.


How is skin cancer treated?

Finding the right treatment for skin cancer depends on exactly where the cancer is and how deep it is, as well as the state of the individual’s general health. It also depends on what type of cancer you have, and whether it is a melanoma or non-melanoma form of skin cancer.

For some people, surgically removing the cancer is an option, whereas other people undergo radiotherapy, which treats the cancer with high-energy waves to eliminate cancer cells. Other treatments include chemotherapy, which destroys tumour tissue at the source.

Finally, photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a combination of drugs and a special type of light to destroy cancer cells.

What are the possible complications of skin cancer?

The complications associated with skin cancer are also dependent on the specific form of cancer, but typical complications include:

  • Recurrence of cancer for those who have already had it
  • Local recurrence, whereby cancer cells spread to nearby tissues in the body
  • Metastasis, whereby the cancer spreads to muscles, nerves or the internal organs
  • Death, in the most severe cases

Useful Information

Radio Necrosis

This is a major complication following the use of radiotherapy on cancerous tumours when normal tissue is destructed. Necrosis means the death of cells in bones, organs, and soft tissues.

Radiotherapy is common method used to treat cancer, but it can also affect the rest of the body as the tissue in the surrounding area is also exposed.

Tissue damage begins once the patient is exposed to the radiation beam. The damage starts to interfere with the normal processes of supplying blood to the irritated areas, causing the tissue to change.

If a surgeon attempts to repair the damaged tissues, he or she may confront numerous complications. When attempting a skin graft, the surgeon has to connect to tissues that are ischemic (where there is a restricted blood supply) which means the tissue may heal with difficulty or not at all.

Radio necrosis develops in four stages:

  • Acute clinical period (first six months) : No clinical signs may arise during the first few months unless tissue therapy has exceeded its radiation tolerance limits.
  • Sub acute clinical period (second six months) : The recovery from acute radiation damage ends and permanent damage becomes evident.
  • Chronic clinical period (second to fifth year) : Further damage occurs and the most significant problems arise due to chronic deterioration of the microvasculature and tissue damage.
  • Late clinical period (after five years) : Physicians should be alert to signs of new cancers at this stage as soft tissue radio necrosis develops quite slowly. Very few recognisable skin changes arise during first six to 12 months after radiation damage.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells - the thin, flat cells that make up the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis).

Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs) often look like scaly red patches, open sores, or elevated growths with a central depression.

This is the one of the major forms of skin cancer as they are usually found in areas frequently exposed to the sun due to increasing UV exposure on the skin over time.

For this reason, they more commonly found in people with an outdoor profession/lifestyle, the elderly or those with a fair complexion susceptible to burning.

However, SCCs can also occur in other tissues such as; lips, mouth, oesophagus, urinary bladder, prostate, lung, vagina, and cervix.

The symptoms of an SCC can vary but it begins as a small nodule and, as it enlarges, the centre becomes necrotic and sloughs and the nodule turns into an ulcer. This usually presents itself as an ulcerated lesion with hard, raised edges.

The tumour itself may be in the form of hard plaque often with tiny blood vessels. It can lie below the level of the skin and eventually invades the underlying tissue.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas are usually investigated through a biopsy and classified under a microscope to determine the subtype.

They are generally treated by surgical excision although there is the option to use topical chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is usually used as treatment in patients for whom surgery is not feasible.

The common prognosis of Squamous Cell Carcinoma is positive with less than 4% of cases spreading to other parts of the body. Some particular forms of SCCs have a higher, though still positive long-term outcome.

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