Thousands of cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year. Many are not diagnosed until late into the third of fourth stage. If the symptoms should have been apparent to a competent medical professional, but are overlooked or even ignored by a dentist, it could be considered medical malpractice.
Dentists should suggest a routine cleaning and checkup every six months. At these appointments, or during a treatment or treatment to fill cavities or other dental work, the dentist should be looking for:
- Canker sores
- Painful areas
- Tissue redness
- Whitish appearing tissue
If these symptoms are seen, they should be immediately assumed to be cancer until otherwise proven. If oral cancer is left untreated, it usually results in death. A dentist has a duty under the standard of care to perform a comprehensive cancer-screening exam every time a patient’s teeth are cleaned. When oral cancer is not diagnosed in a timely manner, or referred for treatment, then the dentist has committed malpractice.
Dentists may also detect suspicious lesions. If this is the case the dentist should observe it for about 15 days. If the lesion has not healed after this period of time, the patient should be referred to an oral surgeon for consultation, evaluation, and, in most cases, a biopsy. A biopsy is when tissue is removed and examined. This is usually how cancer is detected. Once the tissue has been removed, it is sent to a pathologist for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.
As long as they are detected early, a cancerous lesion can be cut out (excised). Cancer that is encapsulated within sores or lesions can be removed during a procedure that is relatively simple, leaving the patient cancer free in most cases. Failure to remove cancer lesions will likely result in the cancer infiltrating deep into the tissue, and spreading to other parts of the body.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.