A Late Diagnosis of Oral Cancer May Be Due to Dentist Negligence

When most of us go to the dentist, a cavity or possible root canal may be our greatest concern. However, a dental appointment is where most individuals with oral cancer first learn of it. In fact, dentists are trained to search for oral cancers (squamous cell carcinomas) — and are responsible for initiating a diagnostic process if they spot anything of concern.

Early detection correlates with increased survivability, so the role of the dentist is crucial. Unfortunately, some dentists fall short in this responsibility — legally known as a “standard of care” — if they fail to perform the following:

  • Examine the orofacial region (mouth and face) to search for manifestations of various diseases, including cancer
  • Gather a history of tobacco and alcohol use by the patient, and inquire as to incidences of other diseases that predispose the patient to oral cancer (these include anemia, liver disease, HIV, some HPV infections and previous malignancies)
  • If a lesion or other suspicious area is identified, a photograph should be taken to establish a baseline so that later changes can be noted.
  • Take a biopsy, have it analyzed and, if cancerous, refer the patient to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumor.

If the dentist neglects to do any of these things and it extends the period in which the cancer is untreated, the consequences increase. The cancer can metastasize to surrounding areas that then would cause disfigurement and possibly be fatal.

No patient should unnecessarily experience these consequences. A later-stage diagnosis incurs more medical and therapeutic costs, and can interrupt or end a career. It is wholly appropriate to file a lawsuit against a negligent dentist who failed to meet the standards of care that could prevent advanced manifestations of oral cancer. Speak with a dental malpractice attorney today.

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Law Office of Michael & Michelle Mandel
1438 Market Street
San Francisco, California, 94102 USA