Oakwood Solicitors

Melanoma / Skin Cancer

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What is a Melanoma Cancer?

Skin cancer, or Melanoma, is a cancer that forms in melanocytes. These are skin cells that produce melanin or the colouring in your skin. Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body but appear more often on the backs of men or the lungs of women.

There are various kinds of melanoma with the most common being the superficial spreading melanoma which makes up 70%. They occur in pale-skinned individuals, often with freckles.



Other types include:

  • Nodular Melanoma
  • Lentigo Maligna Melanoma
  • Acral Lentiginous Melanoma
  • Amelanotic Melanoma




  • Melanoma is the fifth most common cause of cancer in the UK.
  • There are around 16,000 cases each year with 2,500 deaths.
  • 80% of skin cancer cases can lead to full recovery.
  • It occurs mainly in people under the age of 50.

What Are the Symptoms?

If you are particularly prone to moles, it is important to keep an eye on new moles or any changes in any existing ones. A benign mole is usually round or oval, smooth-edged and smaller than 6mm.

The changes that need to be looked for are:

  • Increase in size.
  • Change in shape.
  • Bleeding.
  • Scabbing.
  • Change in colour.
  • Itchy.

Any changes should be checked immediately by a GP, and the earlier they are detected the better.

The ABCDE checklist is an aid to help distinguish between a healthy mole and a melanoma:

Skin Cancer Skin CancerSkin CancerSkin Cancer   Skin Cancer



Skin cancers are thought to be due to excessive exposure to sunlight or sunbeds. They usually occur due to sunburn or long exposure to the sun. Certain people will be more prone such as if they have:

  • Lots of moles and freckles on the skin.
  • Pale skin.
  • Light coloured hair (blonde/red).
  • A close relative that had melanoma.

Skin cancers can be prevented by using high factor skin creams, applying regularly, staying in the shade and shortening the exposure to the sun.


Treatment Stages:

  • GP – They will usually take photographs of the melanoma to see if it changes over a period of time. If the melanoma is suspicious or has changed, an urgent referral needs to be made to dermatology.
  • Dermatologist – They are trained to examine and recognise melanomas. Any suspect moles may have a biopsy removed from them and sent for analysis.
  • Plastic Surgery – the affected area will be removed under a surgical procedure. The affected area may also be removed to prevent any remaining cells.

Further tests:

If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, further tests may be required. This may include scans such as:

  • Computerised tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

Doctors use the AJCC system, which is used to work out how far the cancer has grown and if it has spread. They range from 0 to 4.

1 – Surface of the skin.

2 – Thickness of up to 4mm and ulceration.

4 – Spreading into the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

This then assists the treatment providers in getting the correct treatment.


  • Surgical excision – If the cancer has not spread then removal of the skin cancer and areas is carried out. It is usually carried out under local anesthic and may leap a scar. Often there will be no further treatment required.
  • Extensive surgery – If the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes then further surgery will be needed. It is usually done under general anaesthic.
  • Palliative care – If the cancer is at stage 4 then a cure is not likely. Treatment is provided to improve symptoms and extend life expectancy.
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy – this is still in the clinical trial phase and helps the boys’ own system to kill the cancer cells.
  • Medication – Ipilimumab, Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab are often used.



How Do I Make a Claim?

If you feel that a medical professional has misdiagnosed your cancer for any of the above reasons, you could be entitled to compensation. Our team will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

You have three years from the misdiagnosis to pursue a case, so do not delay.

How long will my case take to run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude, and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued. Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion.

We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • Firstly we will pursue compensation known as general damages. This is an award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Secondly we will pursue compensation known as special damages. This is an award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why use Oakwood Solicitors to make your Clinical Negligence case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How is my case funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘No-Win, No-Fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost.

If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations.

If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point. The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages, and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites:

British Skin Foundation

Cancer Research UK

Marie Curie


If you have suffered as a result of misdiagnosis, failed diagnosis, or late diagnosis of melanona/skin cancer, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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