Lawsuits for Oral Cancer

I will start posting cases I find about negligence and late oral cancer diagnosis. Why? Survivors need to be aware about their options in a medical malpractice case. Also, this blog will motivate dental professionals to avoid having the same occur in their own practice, to their own patients.

If you are a dental professional and have not seen the page on this website about protecting yourself legally, click here. I will admit that there was a lawsuit with my dentist, oral surgeon and pathologist. I had no thoughts of suing until a relative who is a lawyer came to visit me after surgery and said, “Something is terribly wrong here. A healthy young woman…and now you look like Frankenstein.” He arranged for a photographer to capture the surgical locations, which now I show at my clinical lectures. I pursued the law suit mostly because I was angry that after my diagnosis, I never heard from my dentist or oral surgeon again. During the lawsuit, I learned that my oral surgeon based his treatment on me on a biopsy report that was two years old. That is negligence. The fact was, that first biopsy was misread. My oral pathologist in New York said that tissue taken over two years ago showed moderate dysplasia. If my dysplasia was removed with clean margins, I may never had to have gone through the entire ordeal.

Here is a summary of a Oral Cancer litigation from 2006 published on the Oral Cancer Foundation website. It describes a case of negligence followed by suggestions for dental professionals when sending tissue for a biopsy:

  • Call the laboratory to ensure receipt of the biopsy. Document the call.
  • Determine when you can expect results, and note the day.
  • Follow up with the laboratory if you do not receive the results on the agreed upon day.
  • Set an appointment to take another biopsy if something goes awry with the first biopsy. Consider not charging for the second biopsy.
  • Call the patient when you get the biopsy results. Document the details of the call. If appropriate, refer to a specialist and follow up to ensure the patient went to the specialist, and document those efforts.
  • Obtain a second opinion when pathology reports are inconclusive.

Comments 3

  1. I’m writing for a friend who had tongue cancer.
    For 30 years she has worked in a shop where she soders components.
    She wonders if that could have contributed to this. She does not wear a mask. She is able to open a window.
    She spoke to her doctor but he did not seemed interested in having a conversation.
    Just wondering if there is ant documentation.

    1. Post

      You will never be able to prove that oral cancer was caused by 1st, 2nd, or 3rd hand smoke, mercury or amalgam in fillings or environmental causes. Some firefighters believe they got their cancer from smoke filled homes….but it is all speculation. If her cancer was at the base of the tongue, it is probably HPV related and has nothing to do with fumes from molding metals. Feel free to contact me with more thoughts or questions. Please let me know you have seen my response. Where was her cancer? Lateral border of tongue, floor, or base? Was she ever a smoker?

  2. Dear Eva, my name is Judy. I’m 63 and have stage 4 oral cancer. I lost the left side of my tongue, the floor of the mouth and my jaw bone was shaved to get a margin. I had two positive lymph nodes. I went through chemo/radiation and finished August 2015. You were the first person I located on the web and your info helped me a great deal. Thank you. It can be a lonely experience. I am writing for advice. I just filed a complaint against my ENT for failure to diagnose/treat. My legal team have found several experts to support my case but we still need an Oncologist who can clarify how fast squamous cell cancer can spread. I’ve been searching for articles but never get very far. Do you gave any suggestions or recommendations. I was seeing this ENT for two years followup exams for squamous tissue problems from more than 20 years prior (routine followup). He said I was fine. Then I had a wisdom tooth extracted and that dentist said I was NOT fine and was in real trouble. He was actually freaked out that my ENT said I was fine. The dentist referred me to an ENT who focuses only on cancer cases, Dr. Audrey Erman, at the University Medical Center in Tucson. After two surgeries, I was diagnosed with stage four oral cancer. If you can help with thus one aspect of my case – how fast does it spread – I’d appreciate it. Any specialist you can think of who would speak to this issue would be helpful. Thanks for being there to help us. Best Regards – Judy, Patagonia Arizona

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