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Value of visual skin cancer screening questioned

Over the past decade, there has been an increased awareness of the dangers of skin cancer in North Carolina and across the U.S. Public health efforts have focused on encouraging people to avoid prolonged sun exposure and to use sunscreen. People have also been encouraged to report any unusual spots or moles on their bodies to their doctors and, in some cases, submit to regular skin examinations by their physician.

A recent study has questioned, however, the value of visual skin examinations by physicians in preventing skin cancer deaths. Instead of saving lives, there may be some evidence that routine visual screening may only result in the overdiagnosis of malignancy or even misdiagnosis.

The consequences of a misdiagnosis or overdiagnosis can result in unnecessary scarring and trauma to the skin. There may also be a loss of functionality depending on the extent of the procedure to remove the spot. The study's authors urge those who are concerned about skin cancer to discuss the matter with their physicians before making any decisions about screening.

In some cases, skin cancer misdiagnoses and mistakes can rise to the level of medical malpractice. The negative consequences of negligence and malpractice can be devastating to patients who may incur additional medical expenses along with pain-and-suffering. In addition, victims of malpractice may also lose out on professional opportunities and suffer damage to their interpersonal relationships.

Individuals who believe that they've been a victim of malpractice might benefit from seeking a consultation with an attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client's circumstances and make appropriate recommendations. Through a lawsuit, an attorney may be able to obtain financial relief and compensation for a client who is the victim of a misdiagnosis.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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