The most common dermatology claims arise as the result of a delay in the correct diagnosis of a skin tumour. A failure to diagnose skin cancer or a delay in diagnosing skin cancer can reduce the treatment options available and affect your prognosis.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and it is an abnormal growth of skin cells which form a mass called a tumour. It normally develops on skin which has been exposed to the sun but can occur on areas not exposed to sunlight also.

There are a number of skin cancers which can develop over time, including:

  • Malignant Melanoma – this affects the pigment cells which gives skin its colour. This type of skin cancer accounts for approximately 1% of all skin cancers and is the most serious type of skin cancer.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – this type of cancer is mainly caused by sun exposure to the squamous cells of the epidermis. It can also develop on skin that has been burned, damaged by chemicals or exposed to radiation from x-rays for example.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma – approximately 80% of skin cancers develop from these cells. Basal cells are the round cells found in the lower epidermis. It is mainly caused by sun exposure.
  • Merkel cell cancer – this is a highly aggressive, rare cancer which starts beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. It may also be called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin.

The misdiagnosis of these skin cancers account for most of the dermatology related medical negligence cases in Ireland.

Examples of medical negligence relating to skin cancer include:

  • Failure to identify changes to the size, shape and colour of a mole
  • Failure to refer a patient to a specialist for further investigations
  • Failure to report on a cancer biopsy or test
  • Failure to remove a cancerous lesion correctly
  • Failure to diagnose symptoms of skin cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body.

Our leading medical negligence lawyers can advise you regarding a potential medical negligence claim as a result of a diagnosis of skin cancer. If you wish to speak to a member of our team, please contact us on 019123240 or email us on