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Dental Malpractice: Failure to Identify Oral Cancer

When you go in for your regular check up or for a cleaning, the last thing you expect to hear is that you may have oral cancer. However, oral cancer affects thousands of people every year, including killing 8,000 people a year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. In 2014 there were 40,000 cases of oral cancer in the U.S. Like lung cancer, tobacco products greatly increase one’s chances of developing oral cancer. A study done by the University of California, San Francisco found that eight out of 10 people with oral cancer use tobacco. However, 25 percent of those who develop oral cancer do not use any tobacco products and only consume alcohol sparingly (the high consumption of alcohol is also linked to oral cancer).

Unfortunately, blaring signs of oral cancer can go by unnoticed by inattentive, careless dentists. When a dentist shows such negligence and you suffer the consequences of a missed opportunity to be treated, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your dentist.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Cancer can be described as the uncontrollable growth of cells that destroy and cause damage to the surrounding matter. Oral cancer can be identified, at times, as a strange growth or persistent sore in or around the mouth that does not go away even with weeks and weeks of carefully avoiding the spot when eating or brushing. It is not solely contained to the mouth, but can also be found on the lips. Oral cancer may be on the tongue, floor of the mouth, the soft and hard portions of the palate, the pharynx (throat), and the sinuses. Like many forms of cancer, if oral cancer is not treated in time, it can spread further and become fatal. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Any competent dentist knows these signs by heart, and failure to see them could mean negligence on their part:

  • The area is thick or swollen, has lumps, rough spots, a crust, or has eroded portions of the lips, gums, or area surrounding the mouth;
  • Bleeding of the mouth;
  • Numbness, pain, tenderness of the face, mouth, or neck;
  • White or red speckles or patches inside the mouth;
  • Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not go away or keep coming back for two or more weeks;
  • Sores that bleed easily;
  • A sore feeling at the back of the throat as if something is caught back there;
  • Having difficulty swallowing, speaking, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaw properly;
  • Chronic sore throat;
  • A sudden voice change or hoarseness;
  • Pain in the ears, either sharp or dull;
  • Having teeth (or dentures) that suddenly no longer fit together; and/or
  • Sudden weight loss.

People With the Most Risk of Oral Cancer

Men are twice as likely to contract oral cancer than women. However, there are other factors at play that greatly increase a person’s risk. People who smoke tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipes, or cigars are six times more likely to contract oral cancer than those who do not. People who use smokeless tobacco products such as dip and snuff are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not. Alcohol also increases oral cancer risk. Drinkers put themselves at six times the risk than non-drinkers. Finally, early and frequent sun exposure, especially at a young age, increases the risk of oral cancer.

Our Experienced Jacksonville Dental Malpractice Attorneys Are Here for You

If you or a loved one was misdiagnosed or your dentist failed to catch the early, obvious signs of your oral cancer, you may be entitled to damages to help pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages associated with the missed or delayed opportunity for treatment. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today to discuss your legal options with one of our experienced dental malpractice attorneys. Contact us now at Gillette Law, P.A. at 888-366-5904. We serve clients in Brunswick, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida.

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