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Misdiagnosis of Melanoma

Misdiagnosis of Melanoma

A diagnosis of melanoma can be delayed or missed because some melanomas may not produce any change in skin color. The abnormal pigmentation that does often occur with the disease may not be easily visible, such as when it occurs on the back. In addition, a melanoma may grow within a previously existing and normal mole and may not be noticed promptly. Because of this, it is important to seek regular medical care during which a licensed health care clinician can thoroughly examine the skin for the abnormal or asymmetrical appearance moles and other signs of melanoma....more about Melanoma »

Alternative diagnoses list for Melanoma:

For a diagnosis of Melanoma, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Melanoma:

Diseases for which Melanoma may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Melanoma is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Melanoma: Hidden Causes Misdiagnosed?

Causes of Melanoma may include these medical conditions:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with varying shades of black and brown. It may occur at any age or body site, and is most common in Caucasians
  • Nodular melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red, although some are without color
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma usually occurs in the elderly. It is most common in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas are usually large, flat, and tan with intermixed areas of brown
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least common form of melanoma. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is more common in African Americans
  • more causes...»

Rare Types of Melanoma:

Melanoma: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Melanoma: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Melanoma:

Dysplastic nevi often look very much like melanoma. Doctors with special training in skin diseases are in the best position to decide whether an abnormal-looking mole should be closely watched or should be removed and checked for cancer. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI)

Common Misdiagnoses and Melanoma

Spitz nevi misdiagnosed as dangerous melanoma skin cancer: One possible misdiagnosis to consider in lieu of melanoma is spitz nevi. See melanoma and spitz nevi.

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often go undiagnosed. The main problem is that psoriasis is rare in children, and not often seen by physicians for this reason. children may receive treatment for fungal skin infections. See misdiagnosis of psoriasis or symptoms of psoriasis.

Melanoma: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Melanoma

Failure to diagnose Melanoma may be associated with the following:

  • Melanomas are the most dangerous form of skin cancer and early diagnoses is needed to avoid the risk of death
  • Failure to diagnose melanomas in children often occurs as it is considered an adult condition. Children can inherit a predisposition for developing melanomas and should have regular examinations from the age of ten. Changes in the moles most often happen around puberty when hormonal changes occur
  • Melanomas can vary greatly in size, shape and colour which can hinder diagnosis
  • Patients often ignore or don't notice any skin changes which can hinder early diagnosis
  • Eye melanomas often don't cause symptoms until they become more advanced. Thus, routine eye examinations are important as the melanoma can be detected at a relatively early stage. Symptoms that are caused by eye melanomas (e.g. blurred vision, reduced visual acuity) may sometimes be ignored or dismissed as due to stress, tiredness or some other cause. Eye melanomas can be difficult to differentiate from a benign eye nevus. Sometimes doctors take the approach of waiting to see if the pigmented spot grows which would indicate melanoma. Currently used needle biopsies often provide no definitive diagnosis
  • Melanomas can in very rare cases occur in the intestines. Often there are no early symptoms which mean it is usually not diagnosed in the early stages. When gastrointestinal symptoms do present they are often misdiagnosed as some other gastrointestinal disorder such as infection or is simply put down to lifestyle factors such as anxiety or stress
  • Moles that occur on parts of the body that are difficult to see make it less likely that the patient will be alerted to any changes. For example, a mole on the back or scalp is impossible to see and any developments will only be detected by someone else inspecting these areas. Thus, it is important to have regular skin checks by a health professional
  • A melanoma may also appear as a non-pigmented scar or cyst and is often not considered as a possible melanoma
  • Non-pigmented melanomas that appear as a pink or red lump are often overlooked
  • A rare type of melanoma called a desmoplastic neutrophic melanoma is often undiagnosed as it has the appearance of a scar. Any scars that appear without any history of injury or other trauma should be examined. This form of melanoma is most commonly found on the head and neck area of old patients

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Melanoma

The following may be hidden causes of Melanoma:

  • The major cause of melanoma is exposure to UV light from sunlight
  • Tanning booths also utilise UV light and increase the risk of melanoma
  • Other causes includes: exposure to high levels of x-rays or certain chemicals such as arsenic, hydrocarbons found in tar, oil, soot, paraffin wax, petroleum products, creosote and asphalt. Jobs such as mining, farming and sheep shearing may expose people to chemicals such as arsenic
  • A suppressed immune system may also increase the risk of melanoma. The immune system suppression may be due to certain diseases or as a result of medications used to treat autoimmune diseases or avoid organ rejection after a transplant
  • Certain factors predispose a person to melanoma: fair skin, blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, prior history of melanoma, presence of many or unusual moles, easy freckling of skin, family history of melanoma or a prior episode of severe sunburn (especially during childhood)
  • Genetic disorders such as xeroderma pigmentosum and albinism reduces skin pigmentation and increases the risk of melanoma
  • Some people have an inherited genetic anomaly which predisposes them to the risk of melanoma
  • The treatment of psoriasis with UV, skin scarring (e.g. from skin ulcers or burns) and the presence of solar keratosis may also increase the risk of melanoma
  • Benign lesions that can develop into melanoma include congenital melanocytic naevus (brown birthmark), atypical or dysplastic nevus (unusual-looking mole) and benign melanocytic nevus (normal moles)
  • People with unusual moles who have family members with melanoma are considered to have a condition called familial multiple mole melanoma syndromes. They face a greater risk of their unusual moles developing into melanoma
  • There is no evidence to confirm whether exposure to sunlight increases the risk of primary eye melanoma
  • Melanomas under the nails are often misdiagnosed as a harmless nail condition or put down to some sort of trauma to the nail

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Melanoma

Wrong diagnosis of Melanoma may be associated with the following:

  • Melanoma may be wrongly diagnosed as a benign skin lesion or a simple mole
  • Harmless moles are frequently misdiagnosed as melanoma which leads to unnecessary biopsies and treatment
  • A blue nevus may be wrongly diagnosed as a melanoma

Complications Of Misdiagnosis Of Melanoma

The following may be complications of misdiagnosis of Melanoma:

  • Nasal bleeding and stuffiness due to a nasal melanoma may be misdiagnosed simply as an isolated nose bleed, respiratory infection or allergy
  • A bruise due to a melanoma is often misdiagnosed simply as a bruise. A bruise due to melanoma often doesn't fade with time or tends to come and go

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Melanoma

  • Melanomas occur mainly on the skin but can also occur on mucous membranes such as the genital, lips, mouth, vulva, vagina, eye and intestines
  • Children who come from families who have high rates of melanoma should be examined regularly from the age of 10
  • Melanomas may have a flat appearance and occasionally there may be a decrease in pigmentation rather than an increase

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Melanoma:

The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Melanoma:

Misdiagnosis and Melanoma deaths

Melanoma is a condition that can possibly be deadly if misdiagnosed...more »

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Melanoma or confirming a diagnosis of Melanoma, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Melanoma may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Melanoma. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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