If caught in the early stages, oral cancer can be treated. The longer it takes to detect, the lower the mortality rate. A late diagnosis can be the result of negligence. In Pennsylvania, that’s an argument for medical malpractice.
Oral cancer exam
The American Cancer Society reports over 30,000 oral cancer cases are diagnosed annually. Thousands of those cases end up in death.
The disease is the result of mutated cells that invade and damage tissue. Cancer can show up on the roof or floor of the mouth, the lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, or sinuses. By the time oral cancer is visible to the naked eye, it’s already in its late stages.
When visible, you see swelling, rough patches, bumps, and white and red discoloring. There can be numbness in the face, mouth or neck and difficulty swallowing and bleeding.
Medical malpractice and oral cancer
If you are regularly visiting the dentist, he or she should be performing oral exams. Should you discover oral cancer in its late stages, you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, especially under the following circumstances.
• You have a regular and consistent doctor-patient relationship where you expect sound treatment.
• The clinician failed to provide an appropriate duty of care.
• Negligence in breach of care directly contributed to the late cancer diagnosis.
• Your case has to fall within Pennsylvania’s limitation statutes.
• You are less than 50 percent responsible.*
* The court may hold a patient partially responsible based on specific criteria, such as not visiting a dentist regularly.
Get to the dentist regularly to protect your oral health
A dentist failing to perform his or her duty can be hard to prove in court. You need strong evidence that demonstrates:
• A diagnostic failure
• Inappropriate treatment
• A lack of information
• A misinterpretation of lab results
• A failure to order exams
You only have a limited time to file a medical malpractice claim in this state. That’s two years from the time you discover your oral cancer was the result of negligence.