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Given all the snow and cold we’ve had here in Pennsylvania in the last week, it may seem premature to start talking about one of the biggest dangers associated with prolonged exposure to the sun.
However, it’s important to remember that even though the weather outside is cold, people are still outside in the sun quite a bit for recreational activities or for work. Furthermore, as hard as it is to believe, warmer weather is now only a few months away, meaning most of us will find ourselves enjoying the outdoors sooner than we think.
In light of all this reality, the next few posts will examine the dangers posed by the skin cancer melanoma and the devastating consequences of a physician failing to diagnose this potentially deadly condition.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is recognized as the most lethal form of skin cancer. It develops when the DNA damage done to skin cells by periodic yet intense exposure to ultraviolet radiation — typically via natural sunlight or tanning beds — goes unrepaired and, in the process, initiates mutations.
These mutations, in turn, cause the skin cells to multiple quickly and hasten the creation of malignant tumors.
Just how deadly is melanoma?
Medical experts believe that melanoma is responsible for as many as 9,710 deaths here in the United States every year.
Are the rates of melanoma declining?
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 120,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Indeed, the organization forecasted that in 2014 alone just over 76,100 of these cases would involve invasive melanomas, divided between just over 32,000 in women and just short of 44,000 in men.
Is melanoma treatable?
Yes, medical experts indicate that the condition is almost always curable if caught and treated early enough. Failure to do so, however, can mean it spreads to other parts of the body, becoming untreatable and ultimately fatal.
We will continue this conversation in our next post. In the meantime, you must consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that you or a family member have been victimized by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer.
Source: The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Melanoma,” Accessed Feb. 2, 2015
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