November is Mouth Cancer Action month which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and save lives by promoting the values of prevention and early detection.
Shoosmiths’ serious injury team’s specialist solicitors have experience in bringing claims for compensation for a wide range of oncological injuries including oral cancer. Delays in diagnosing and treating cancer can have a significant impact on people who suffer with cancer, often causing life changing injuries.
What is mouth cancer?
According to the NHS website (Mouth cancer - NHS (www.nhs.uk)), mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, can affect any part of the mouth, including the gums, tongue, inside of the cheeks or lips. The risk of oral cancer increases with age.
Symptoms of mouth cancer
The symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- A mouth ulcer in your mouth that lasts more than three weeks
- A red or white patch inside your mouth
- A lump inside your mouth or on your lip
- Pain inside your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty speaking or a hoarse (croaky) voice
- A lump in your neck or throat
- Losing weight without trying
The purpose of Mouth Cancer Action Month is to raise awareness of the risk factors of oral cancer and the importance of seeking medical attention to enable early detection and prevention. It encourages regular dental check-ups, self-examination, and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of oral cancer.
Diagnosis and treatment of mouth cancer
It is important to speak to your GP or dentist if you have any of the above symptoms, as they will refer you for further investigations if there is a suspicion of oral cancer. An urgent referral will be made on a two week-wait basis. You will see a specialist who will perform a biopsy of the affected area and a scan, such as an x-ray or CT scan.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, treatment will depend on factors such as the size of the cancer, the location of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. You may require surgery and a course of therapy such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What are mouth cancer claims?
There are many potential circumstances which can give rise to a claim for compensation. The following are examples:
- Failure to refer you for further investigations – a failure by your GP and/or dentist to appropriately assess your symptoms and promptly refer you to a specialist for further investigations, can result in a delay in diagnosis of cancer and, sadly, sometimes death.
- Failure to perform appropriate investigations – following referral to the hospital, a situation may arise where the specialist you see fails to perform the appropriate investigations required, such as a biopsy, which can lead to a delay in diagnosis of cancer.
A client case
We have experience in dealing with cases involving mouth cancer. One of our clients was concerned about an ulcer on her tongue and saw various medical professionals including GP, dentist, and specialist consultants. There were multiple failures to refer her for further investigations and failures to perform appropriate investigations, which sadly led to a diagnosis of cancer and required extensive surgery and chemotherapy. Our client has been left with many long-term symptoms because of her treatment, which may have been avoided if she had received an earlier diagnosis of cancer.
How can Shoosmiths’ serious injury team help?
In a successful medical negligence claim relating to a delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer, we obtain compensation for the injury itself and to assist our clients with any potential future needs, such as care and assistance, future treatment and loss of earnings that arise directly due to negligence.
It is important not to delay seeking legal advice as there are proposals coming into force next year which could limit the level of legal representation available for lower value claims.
If you have concerns that you, a family member or friend may have experienced a delay in diagnosis of cancer, or you have concerns about the treatment you received, contact us for a free and confidential discussion.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023