Even with advanced medical technology, it isn’t uncommon for a doctor in New York or New Jersey to misdiagnose a patient. Misdiagnosis is a type of medical malpractice that occurs when a doctor diagnosis a condition incorrectly. One condition that commonly gets misdiagnosed is oral cancer.
Overview of oral cancer
Statistics from 2019 show that around 50,000 people in the United States got an oral cancer diagnosis. Oral cancer is a disease that occurs on the inside of the mouth starting out as sores. These sores could appear on the back of the throat, cheeks, tongue, lips and other mouth surfaces.
Some common signs are sores that won’t heel, bleeding in the mouth, throat lumps and loose teeth. If oral cancer gets detected early, it has a five-year survival rate of 84%. However, if cancer gets diagnosed in late stages because of a doctor’s neglect, it could lead to a medical malpractice claim.
Myths about oral cancer
Several myths persist that may cause oral cancer to go undetected in early stages or get misdiagnosed. For example, it may seem that only older patients have to be concerned about cancer. While the most at-risk patient is a male 50 or older, not all cases relate to age.
Some patients think oral cancer signs are easily detected, but they are not often noticeable. For example, some sores could appear in places the person can’t observe, such as the larynx or mouth lining.
Though using tobacco products increases oral cancer risk, it can occur in non-smokers. Besides smoking, genetics, excessive sun exposure, age and a history of neck cancer and HPV are risk factors.
Doctors might make mistakes in diagnosis, but they still owe a duty of care to patients. Patients who think they may have oral cancer and haven’t been diagnosed should get a second opinion.