Skin cancer deceptions can be more than only skin deep

Washingtonian Magazine–which usually focuses on the circle of self-congratulatory crooks running the country–named Amir Bajoghli, M.D. a “top dermatologist” for seven years in a row from 2005 to 2012. Then in 2013, his reign came to an abrupt end. (Maybe it was a case of the “seven year itch”…or maybe he just stopped buying enough ad space in the magazine.)

And now, he actually stands accused of intentionally misdiagnosing skin cancer in patients. Given the fact that dermatologists already have vast leeway to call more than 90 percent of non-cancerous skin growths “cancer,” the charge against Dr. Bajoghli represents no small infraction.

Indeed, a federal grand jury indicted Dr. Bajoghli on 60 counts of healthcare fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of justice through his medical practice, called the Skin and Laser Surgery Center, which had several locations in Washington, D.C.

According to the indictment, Bajoghli misdiagnosed skin cancer in patients and performed inappropriate treatments called Mohs micrographic surgery on benign skin tissue. He then submitted fraudulent claims, charges, and insurance certifications to collect payments. Also, while working in one of his centers, he fraudulently submitted bills claiming he was performing work in another one of his locations at the very same time.

(Note to his legal defense team: Everyone knows dermatologists use laser beams now. Perhaps his laser beam equipment allowed him “beam up” instantaneously from one location to another like Captain Kirk or Dr. Spock.)

Yesterday, I reminded you about many dermatologists’ incoherent approach to skin cancer prevention. They tell you to avoid the sun. And if you must go into the sun, slather on enough sunscreen to block any trace of ultraviolet light (not to mention the ability of sunlight to naturally activate vitamin D in your skin) completely.

Yet, 91 percent of what most mainstream dermatologists call “skin cancers” are just “growths.” (Only 9 percent are the melanoma skin cancers, which are truly “malignant.”) They almost never invade nor metastasize like a real cancer. And we can easily detect and remove them before they ever cause problems.

In fact, while working as a pathologist in the hospital during my medical residency, we all could see that these tiny growths did not even look like cancer under the microscope. (They invented the non-existing fiction of calling them “grade one-half” while “grade one” is the actual beginning of cancerous changes). So why are they even called “cancer”?

I report often on the widespread, wasteful, dangerous epidemic of cancer over-diagnosis and over-treatment. And I regularly inform you about the inappropriateness of different colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer screening techniques. (While effective lung cancer screening is virtually ignored). But the gross incoherence of skin “cancer” prevention and screening is almost never addressed.

An even greater irony is that observational research over the past half-century consistently shows that low vitamin D and lack of sun exposure may lead to nearly double the risk of breast, colon, and lung cancers, as well as leukemia. Plus, evidence links low vitamin D levels with higher melanoma skin cancer risk!

But the over-diagnosis of skin cancer keeps charlatans like Dr. Bajoghli in business.

Even when they are not accused of outright criminal activity.

Of course, cooking the books is nothing new in our nation’s capital. In fact, shenanigans like Dr. Bajoghli’s may be the “norm” in a place like Washington, D.C. Government bureaucrats and other creatures of Washington never seem to get any real work done, in any location, so it can be hard to tell what they are doing where.

One thing I do know for sure is that I won’t be taking any physician recommendations from Washingtonian Magazine anytime soon.


  1. “’Top’ Dermatologist Indicted for Healthcare Fraud,” Medscape ( 8/14/2014