Common Signs of Oral Cancer that Dentists Miss

Sometimes, dentists misinterpret oral cancer symptoms as indications of other conditions instead of cancer. When this misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose mouth cancer happens, the patient can lose valuable time in a limited window of opportunity for successful treatment and cure of the malignancy.

If a dentist missed the signs of oral cancer in you or a loved one, a New York dental malpractice attorney might be able to help you go after money damages for your losses. Nothing can bring back that time or your loved one’s health and life, but you might qualify for compensation.

Mouth Cancer

Oral cancer, also called mouth cancer, can refer to any malignancy that develops within the oral cavity, including the:

  • Tongue
  • Lips
  • Inside of the cheeks
  • Gums
  • Roof of the mouth
  • Under the tongue (floor of the mouth) 

If your dentist focuses on one task, like filling a cavity, he might not make a careful inspection of the area under your tongue or the lining of the cheeks on the opposite side of your mouth. Some dentists expect patients to inform them about any problems or unusual symptoms they have instead of performing a thorough examination of the entire mouth.

Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

Here are some of the common signs of oral cancer and the reasons why a patient might not realize the gravity of the situation:

  • Cancer in the gums can cause a person to have some loose teeth. A person might think that he has gum disease, like gingivitis, not cancer.
  • Mouth pain is a common indication of oral cancer. If a person had extensive dental work done in the past or needs work done, he might think that the large fillings or tooth decay are causing the discomfort.
  • It can be difficult or uncomfortable to swallow if you have mouth cancer. You might think that you have a sore throat or some other infection rather than a malignancy.
  • Sometimes oral cancer presents as a sore in your mouth or on your lip. A patient might think that he has a fever blister, a canker sore, or is accidentally biting the inside of his mouth. If you have a lesion that does not disappear by 2 weeks time, you must see an oral surgeon or head and neck surgeon for an excisional biopsy. 
  • Cancer can show up as a red or white patch inside your mouth. This symptom could lead a person to suspect a throat infection or a or an inflamed canker sore.
  • You might have a malignant growth or lump inside your mouth and not notice it. The mouth contains a great deal of soft tissue that can hide lumps and bumps.
  • Oddly, oral cancer can cause an earache. Very few people without medical or dental training would suspect that mouth cancer would cause ear pain.

A person might experience one or more of these symptoms or might have entirely different signs. When your doctor or dentist observes abnormalities in your mouth that could indicate a malignancy, the healthcare professional might remove a sample of the tissue to get analyzed in a laboratory.

If your doctor or dentist missed your symptoms of oral cancer, you might want to talk to a New York dental malpractice attorney. New York law gives injured people very little time to file dental malpractice lawsuits. If you miss the deadline, the law could bar you from ever seeking compensation for your losses. Contact us today. 

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.