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Dental Malpractice: Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer

By Norman Younker on August 16, 2018


At the dentist's officeAccording to the Oral Cancer Foundation, roughly 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Of that number, it’s estimated that 9,750 people will die from their oral cancer, and just over half will be alive 5 years after diagnosis. Given these numbers, it should be clear why early diagnosis and treatment is so important. Unfortunately, early detection doesn’t always happen despite numerous telltale signs being present.

When dentists fail to diagnose oral cancer, it’s important that they be held liable for their negligence as dental health professionals. A Salt Lake City, UT dental malpractice lawyer at Younker Hyde Macfarlane can help in these kinds of cases.

Common Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

Some of the most common symptoms and warning signs of oral cancer include:

  • Persistent sores or lesions in the mouth
  • Persistent dental pain
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Thickening of the cheek
  • A lump on the inside of the cheek
  • White or red patches on the gums, tongue, and lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Problems moving the tongue
  • Problems moving the jaw
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Swollen jaw
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in your voice
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent bad breath

What Happens When Oral Cancer Isn’t Diagnosed

If oral cancer isn’t diagnosed, it can develop into more advanced stages of cancer. In fact, so many people who die of oral cancer could have been successfully treated had their cancer been caught much sooner. Later stages of oral cancer are much more difficult to treat.

A dentist may not diagnose the oral cancer even with telltale signs, and instead of performing tests just assume a lesion or problem is a passing matter. Whether it’s a missed diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or an incorrect diagnosis, a dental patient’s life may be on the line.

How Oral Cancer Screenings Should Work

During a routine dental visit, a dentist should be mindful of any problems a patient is facing and look into those issues in greater detail. Oral cancer screenings should become part of a routine dental checkup in older patients as well, especially if they have a family history of cancer or used tobacco products for many years.

In general, dentists must be communicative with patients and ask what problems they are facing. Knowing a patient’s health issues, the dentist should be able to properly diagnose the issue. Even if a patient is not suffering from the early stages of oral cancer, it helps to be cautious and thorough regarding someone’s dental health.

Holding Dentists Accountable

Dentist should be held to similar standards as doctors when it comes to issues with delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Our lawyers can hold dental health professionals for the mistakes they’ve made that have negatively impacted the lives of their patients.

Our team will help seek damages to cover the cost of cancer treatment and other losses associated with the condition. If you lose a loved one due to a late oral cancer diagnosis, we will also help you recover damages for funerary costs and emotional pain and suffering.

Learn More About Dental Malpractice Lawsuits

To learn more about dental malpractice lawsuits and how our team can help you in your time of legal need, be sure to contact the attorneys of Younker Hyde Macfarlane. Our medical malpractice lawyers are here to provide expert counsel every step of the way.

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