Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, and melanoma, despite accounting for only 1 percent of skin cancers, causes the largest number of deaths. More than 97,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma every year, with fair-skinned people being more than 20 times more likely to be affected than those with darker skin. Nodular and ocular melanomas are two specific types of melanoma that can be particularly challenging to treat.
Nodular melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can mimic the appearance of benign conditions, like blood blisters and acne, in its early stages. It’s also one of the most aggressive skin cancers since it grows mostly beneath the skin, where it can’t be seen, and spreads more rapidly than other types of melanoma. While only around 15 percent of all melanomas are nodular, they cause nearly half of all melanoma-related deaths.
Nodular melanoma is often curable when diagnosed early, but it’s often not diagnosed until it reaches a more advanced stage. Spending time in the sun or on a tanning bed is one of the biggest risk factors for nodular melanoma.
Ocular melanoma is the most common type of eye cancer in adults. Although it can develop anywhere in the eye, ocular melanoma most often affects the layer of the eye containing the iris (the colored part of the eye). Large eye melanomas often cause complete vision loss in the affected eye, and smaller melanomas can cause minor vision impairment that can often be overlooked or ignored. Like other types of melanoma, fair skin, light-colored eyes, and sun exposure are the biggest risk factors.
Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer when a diagnosis is made, but surgery is typically recommended first. The surgeon removes the melanoma and a small amount of healthy tissue around the margins to remove the cancer completely. This may mean removing the eye and potentially the eyelid and other surrounding tissue in ocular melanoma. Radiation is often used to help kill cancer cells after surgery, and lymph nodes may be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading. If melanoma has reached a more advanced stage, different types of chemotherapy can be started to target the remaining cancer cells.
Survival rates reflect the percentage of people still alive five years after receiving a diagnosis and starting treatment, and survival rates differ depending on the stage of melanoma at the time of diagnosis. In the early stage, the melanoma is relatively small and has not spread to surrounding areas. In many cases, it can be surgically removed without requiring further treatment. In the middle stage, it has gotten larger and started to spread into surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. In the late stage, the melanoma has metastasized (spread) to other organs throughout the body and is very difficult to treat.
Nodular melanoma survival rate:
early stage: 98 percent
middle stage: 64 percent
late stage: 23 percent
Ocular melanoma survival rate:
early stage: 85 percent
middle stage: 71 percent
late stage: 13 percent
Ocular melanoma survival rates can also differ depending on where in the eye the melanoma began. For example, melanoma in the iris itself, which doesn’t typically spread, has a five-year survival rate of more than 95 percent.
When it comes to cancer, particularly melanoma, early treatment is essential. When identified and treated early, survival rates tend to be very good. When diagnosis and/or treatment is delayed, outcomes tend to be poor. While many melanomas aren’t diagnosed early because the patient didn’t think to seek medical attention, medical negligence can also play a part.
If you or a loved one sought medical attention and a doctor didn’t take your case seriously, didn’t investigate thoroughly, or didn’t refer you to a specialist when it was warranted, you could be entitled to compensation. Melanoma, particularly nodular and ocular, can spread quickly and have devastating consequences. If a doctor’s negligence caused a delay in your diagnosis or treatment, look for an attorney specializing in medical malpractice.
The legal team at Ross Feller Casey has a nationally recognized reputation for obtaining record-setting results. Our dedicated attorneys and an on-staff team of Ivy League-trained doctors have taken on physicians, hospitals, and top insurance companies and won. We’ve recovered more than $3 billion for our clients, including hundreds of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements, and we’re ready to put our expertise to work for you.
There’s no fee unless you win, and consultations are always free. You deserve justice if you or a loved one has been catastrophically injured after a melanoma diagnosis due to a doctor’s failure to identify your cancer quickly and treat it appropriately. Contact us today.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.