How dentists can misdiagnose oral cancer

A Connecticut resident with oral cancer often learns that something might be seriously wrong during an appointment with their dentist. But if your dentist does not pay close attention, they could fail to diagnose your cancer or misdiagnose a cancerous lesion as benign.

As a result, it could be months before your cancer is caught. The delay could require you to undergo more intensive and grueling treatment than you would have, had your dentist diagnosed you properly the first time.

Signs your dentist knows how to find oral cancer

Responsible dentists take their legal duty of due care toward their patients seriously. When it comes to diagnosing possible oral cancer, here are some things they do to minimize the risk of misdiagnosis:

  • Ask the patient about their lifestyle (i.e., do they smoke or otherwise use tobacco products) and recording their responses.
  • Keep up with the latest diagnostic practices.
  • Be suspicious of any oral lesion or swelling.
  • If the patient complains of symptoms with no obvious cause, consider sending them for a second opinion.
  • Refer a patient with potential oral cancer to an appropriate specialist.

Note that not every misdiagnosis is the result of medical malpractice. A dentist whose care is up to the legally required standard can still fail to recognize signs of possible cancer. But the chances of that happening with a conscientious dentist are much lower than when the dentist is negligent.

A careless examination puts the patient at serious risk of a delayed cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, the patient could therefore have to undergo disfiguring surgery or possibly even pass away.