People in Georgia and around the country know that early detection can be key to successfully fighting cancer. What they may not know is that oral cancer is one of the toughest ones to diagnose, and it has a high mortality rate. What’s more, it’s common for physicians to miss oral cancer when a patient first presents. Understanding why and how this happens may be key to changing the outlook for patients.
Cases that were missed
Often, patients who have early stage oral cancer tell their doctor or dentist about pain in their mouth. Some of them chalk it up to abrasions from teeth. Doctors may prescribe creams or try other solutions before going right to a biopsy. This is especially true if the patient is young, in good health and does not engage in habits like tobacco use. Unfortunately, for these people, doing the right things health-wise can work against them.
It’s important for doctors and dentists to know the signs of early oral cancer. A patient may show up with a growth, a slit in the cheek, or a colored (white or red) lesion. The variety makes it difficult for doctors to be experts, which is why they shouldn’t be shy about using referrals where appropriate. It’s much better to send a patient to someone who knows, rather than risk being wrong about a cancer. In some cases, a missed diagnosis can even be considered medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by a diagnostic error, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney. A lawyer may be able to help you understand if you have a solid case for medical malpractice.