One of the deadliest forms of cancer is melanoma, a type of skin cancer. This aggressive disease often goes undetected or ignored by people in Massachusetts and across America until it is too advanced to be treated. Usually, a patient notices that a mole has formed or changed in appearance without any other symptoms. To determine whether the mole is cancerous, a doctor must observe it for certain features and, if it appears suspicious, cells must be biopsied. Accordingly, in order to catch melanoma, a patient is dependent on his or his doctor’s abilities, and failure to make an accurate diagnosis can result in a poor outcome.
Technology may help standardize the diagnosis of melanoma using a recently introduced device called the MelaFind. The tool contains a scanner linked to an algorithm that can be held over skin in order to determine whether the scanned site has a likelihood of being pre-cancer or cancerous. Dermatologists are mixed as the whether the tool will provide a benefit to patients. Some doctors insist that the MelaFind provides too many false positives, while other providers argue that the tool may improperly fail to detect cancer, leading to a false sense of security.
It will be interesting to see whether the MelaFind becomes the new standard of care for dermatology and family practice doctors. If so, patients in the future may be able to file a lawsuit against a doctor for failure to diagnose cancer that would have been found using the MelaFind device. In fact, whenever a patient suffers a worsened condition due to a doctor’s failure to utilize standard technology, it can be best to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.
Source: Medical Daily, “New Melanoma-Seeking Technology Polarizes The Dermatology Field,” John Ericson, July 21, 2013