middle aged woman holding mouth in pain

Did Your Dentist Fail to Diagnose Your Mouth Cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with mouth cancer and your dentist, with whom you have regular visits, failed to perform proper oral cancer screening or ignored signs of possible malignancy, you may be able to sue her or him for malpractice. Unfortunately, many of the tens of thousands of cases of oral cancer diagnosed annually in this country aren’t diagnosed until they have advanced to the third or fourth stage. At this point, mouth cancers are much more difficult to treat and may have already metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). 

If your dentist has been negligent by failing to detect warning signs of possible mouth cancer, with the help of an experienced dental malpractice lawyer, you may be able to file a lawsuit and receive substantial damages for the harm you’ve suffered. At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, our attorneys are compassionate as well as highly skilled and have a history of successful litigation and settlements.

How Your Dentist May Have Been Negligent

Comprehensive dental exams should always include a screening for oral cancer, meaning that your dentist should examine your lips, gums, palate, cheeks, tongue, and floor of your mouth with great care, looking for signs of any abnormal lesion or patch of tissue. Your dentist should also check the lymph nodes of your head and neck for any abnormal swelling. 

Your dentist should be on the lookout for:

  • Canker sores or other lesions
  • Tissue that is red or inflamed
  • Painful areas anywhere in the mouth
  • White patches 
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If your dentist discovers any suspicious signs, he or she should check you again within 2 weeks to see if the situation has resolved. If not, you should be referred to a specialist for a possible biopsy.

Your Dentist Is Also Responsible for Taking Your Risk Factors into Account

All medical professionals must take the medical histories of their patients and update them regularly. It is important for your dentist to know whether you are at increased risk of mouth cancer because you:

  • Smoke cigarettes, pipes, or cigars
  • Use smokeless tobacco products (e.g. snuff or chewing tobacco)
  • Are frequently exposed to the sun, making you more prone to lip cancer 
  • Are infected with HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Consume alcohol to excess
  • Have had oral cancer before

Although your dentist can’t diagnose mouth cancer, he or she is obligated to refer you to another doctor who specializes in oncology to evaluate the suspect tissue and biopsy it if necessary.

Your Dentist’s Negligence May Have Terrible Consequences

Mouth cancer detected at a late stage is much more dangerous so early detection is crucial. Late-stage mouth cancer also requires more complicated treatment and has a much higher fatality rate. For these reasons, your dentist’s negligence is likely to hurt you physically, emotionally, and financially. 

Moreover, your dentist’s negligence will distress all members of your family. If one of your loved ones has suffered a wrongful death because of a dentist’s negligence, it has undoubtedly left an irreparable hole in your family fabric and, if the patient was a major wage earner, may have left your family economically unstable.

The costs of advanced cancer are incalculable, but include:

  • Expensive medical treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgeries
  • Pain and suffering from side effects of treatment* as well as from disease progression 
  • Lost income while incapacitated
  • Wrongful death 

*e.g. pain, difficulty swallowing, tooth decay, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, and vomiting

Nearly half of those diagnosed with oral cancer this year will die of the disease. How many of them could have been saved if their dentist had not been negligent

If Your Dentist Has Failed to Diagnose Your Mouth Cancer, You Deserve Compensation

Our dedicated attorneys will fight hard for your right to damages, including those for:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income, present, and future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent scarring or another disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Wrongful death (final medical costs, funeral costs, loss of support)

Working with our talented dental malpractice attorney will provide you with the best chance of winning your case and obtaining justice. 

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.