Case Resolution in Delayed Diagnosis of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Written by Mark Atlee

A team of lawyers at Atlee Hall recently successfully resolved a case involving a delay in diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma in a 78-year-old man. The patient had a long history of basal cell carcinoma that had been present for several decades. He continued to follow with his doctor for general dermatologic care. He had an ongoing lesion behind his left ear; however, it was regarded as being basal cell carcinoma or actinic keratosis. The doctor simply prescribed a topical cream to treat the lesion. The lesion would go away and come back again. This continued on for several years.

Subsequently, a secondary lesion appeared on the left side of the patient’s neck below his ear. This was initially diagnosed as keratoacanthoma, an infection, and he was prescribed antibiotics. The lesion, and a lump that appeared under the surface of the skin, continued to grow over the course of several months. Eventually, he was sent for a second opinion, and it was immediately identified as squamous cell carcinoma, which had invaded into the parotid gland. An initial resection of the tumor was done, which required further resection due to unclean margins. The patient subsequently had to undergo radiation therapy. Additionally, it was discovered that the lesion behind his left ear, which had been present for years, was in fact squamous cell carcinoma, and further surgery had to be done in order to resect that lesion. The secondary tumor that had appeared was actually an extension of the previously undiagnosed squamous cell carcinoma behind his left ear.

The team of lawyers at Atlee Hall, through the use of extensive discovery and employing experts in dermatology, head and neck surgery, pathology and oncology, were able to establish a strong case on liability and damages, which resulted in a successful resolution of the matter.