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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Oral Cancer Negligence Claims - What You Need To Know

Written by Divya Anand on 
17th January, 2022
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are unfortunately times where the standard of care provided to oral cancer patients prior to diagnosis, during treatment and even after, falls below what is expected

This can have a devastating impact, even resulting in death. Some examples where a patient may have received substandard cancer treatment includes:

  • Delays by a GP/dentist in considering suspected cancer pathway referrals
  • Delays by a GP/dentist in referring a patient for urgent assessment
  • A delay in diagnosis and failing to conduct adequate investigations
  • Mistakes in interpreting investigations and staging
  • Misdiagnosis of mouth cancer

In cases where there has been a delayed and/or misdiagnosis of mouth cancer, this may have resulted in the patient experiencing further complications and/or he/she requires more invasive treatment which could have otherwise been avoided.

Some of the signs and/or symptoms of mouth cancer and when they should be further investigated.

  • Ulcers that do not heal within 3 weeks
  • Lumps and swelling of no obvious cause in the mouth or neck
  • Bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Persistent hoarseness or changes to the voice
  • Persistent coughing or the feeling that something is stuck in the throat
  • Numbness or tingling of the lips or tongue

According to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines, a suspected cancer pathway referral (for an appointment within 2 weeks) should be considered when there is either:

  1. An unexplained ulceration in the oral cavity lasting for more than 3 weeks, or
  2. A persistent and unexplained lump in the neck

Consider an urgent referral for assessment for possible oral cancer by a dentist in people who either have:

  1. A lump on the lip or in the oral cavity, or
  2. A red, or red and white patch in the oral cavity consistent erythoplakia

Your GP and/or dentist should carry out a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. If mouth cancer is suspected and/or indicated, you should be referred to hospital for further investigation including speaking to a specialist oral and maxillofacial surgeon. It is thereafter likely that a biopsy will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

If you think you have received negligent treatment

You can contact the Dental Negligence Team for an initial consultation if you think you have a negligence claim. When they receive your enquiry, their dedicated team will listen to your concerns and confirm exactly what they think has gone wrong with your dental care. Following this, prospects of success will be considered and methods of funding discussed.

Once funding is in place, your case will be transferred to a different member of the Dental Negligence Team, who will be responsible for your claim from start to conclusion. They will be available to answer any questions, provide detailed advice, and guide you through the claim process.

Time limits to pursue a clinical negligence claim

A claim for compensation will normally have to be brought within three years of the alleged negligent treatment, or three years from your date of knowledge. There are some exceptions, such as for children who have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim, or adults with mental difficulties who have no time limit.

In cases where a loved one has sadly passed away, the three-year limit often starts from the date of death but provided that the date of death is within three years of the alleged negligent treatment.

Oral Cancer Negligence Claims - What You Need To Know

What you can claim for and how much you are likely to receive in compensation

A compensation claim is made up of two parts:

  1. General damages – this is compensation for your pain, suffering and effects on your everyday life. The court will determine the amount by looking at the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines and the amounts awarded in recent similar cases.
  2. Special damages – this includes things like any financial losses you’ve incurred or will incur in the future such as loss of earnings and/or travel expenses. You’ll need evidence and documentary proof to support any claims for special damages.

Depending on the seriousness of your injury, we may be able to pursue a compensation claim for continuing future loss. For example, you may be unable to earn as much as you did before the incident or need help with personal and household tasks.

In cases where you are claiming on behalf of a deceased loved one, you can claim for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they died, bereavement damages (which are usually limited to the spouse or civil partner of the deceased) and funeral expenses. If you were financially dependant on the deceased as you were either a spouse or child of the deceased, you may be able to recover compensation for loss of dependency. We come across these cases quite often especially in instances where the surviving spouse must now cope with additional costs and/or expenses which he/she could have otherwise avoided. 

The Dental Negligence Team have been working in the field of dental negligence for over 30 years. Our team have expert knowledge of the field and are specialists in seeking maximum, and sometimes record-breaking, levels of compensation.

Please note that Cancer Care Parcel is just passing this information on, we have not been paid to place this article, but we do not endorse it either.

Frequently asked questions regarding cancer misdiagnosis and negligence

What needs to happen for someone to make a cancer negligence case?

The majority of cancer negligence cases are due to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer, advice given about proper treatment, management decisions or medical intervention performance.

Examples that might give rise to a claim

*Not recognizing signs or symptoms being potentially due to cancer
*Not asking appropriate questions, arranging examinations, and/or making an appropriate or urgent referrals due to a potential cancer diagnosis
*Not acting on or delaying test results or recommendations
*Wrong test result interpretation
*Performing tests badly
*Organising inaproriate tests
*Not giving appropriate advice
*technical error in tests or medical treatment
*not providing appropriate follow-up

Do I have claim?

You will need to prove two things for compensation claims
1. Negligence: the professionals proving care did so in a way that would not be supported by any responsible body of such practitioners in those circumstances
2. Damage: the negligence you are claiming for has caused damage that you can prove

Further reading

Dental Health and Oral Care Products

Throat And Mouth Cancer Gifts

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We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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