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Melanoma misdiagnoses are latest dark spot in cancer treatment

With close proximity to ocean beaches in the Savannah area, you are probably well aware of the health dangers of prolonged sun exposure. You know to wear sunscreen while at the beach and know how to spot heat stroke among your friends and family, but do you know how to spot one of the most widespread health dangers of all?

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer in the last 30 years than all other cancers combined. Melanomas, or dark sun spots and moles on the skin, are curable when detected early. Typically doctors say to look for a change in existing moles on your skin, but new research by dermatologists says that it could be more important to look for changes in new spots on your skin as a sign of melanomas.

70 percent of melanomas come from new spots

The research, published in Popular Science, indicates that 70 percent of melanomas form from new spots on the skin. Although you may have focused on existing spots in the past, it may be time to look elsewhere in an effort to detect melanomas early.

Incorrect or delayed diagnoses are all too common

According to the Washington Post, medical diagnoses that are missed, delayed or incorrect affect up to 20 percent of cancer patients in the United States. These incidents are more common than being prescribed the wrong prescription drug or having surgery on the wrong side of your body.

Additionally, NPR reports that 10 percent of skin biopsies are "difficult to diagnose." Therefore, it is important to understand how to perform self-checks for melanomas and how to seek care and compensation for an incorrect or delayed diagnosis.

How to check for new spots

According to the emerging research, areas that are exposed to sunlight often like your face and neck are less likely to develop skin cancer because your body builds up a tolerance to UV radiation. However, areas that are less likely to be exposed to regular sunlight like your back could develop new spots after a day at the beach.

Dermatologists recommend that you ask a trusted friend or a loved one to check hard-to-see areas like your back and shoulders within a few days of prolonged sun exposure, especially in areas where you may have developed redness or peeling.

When faced with health threats such as skin cancer melanomas and their misdiagnosis, the right information can help shine a light on problems of misdiagnosis.

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