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Mouth cancer misdiagnosis &
delay of diagnosis compensation

Mouth cancer misdiagnosis & delay of diagnosis compensation

How much can you claim?

A 57 year old woman underwent negligent surgery to remove a carcinoma from the floor of her mouth. During the procedure, blood supply to her left leg was cut off and amputation became necessary. She was awarded:


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Claiming for mouth cancer

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

Mouth cancer prognoses are generally good and patients have an excellent chance of being completely cured. However, that doesn’t make a cancer diagnosis any less scary and the effectiveness of treatment is often linked to how quickly the cancer is diagnosed. For those who  have been affected by medical negligence in the form of delayed or misdiagnosed mouth cancer, it can affect  their chances  of beating the disease, as well as their overall wellbeing and ability to cope emotionally.

When you’re suffering with cancer you should be able to rely on the medical team responsible for your care. If you’ve been let down you probably feel   vulnerable, frustrated,  angry and wanting answers. Mouth cancer that is diagnosed during the early stages can often be cured with minor surgery, while those patients who are diagnosed  later  may require extensive surgery and facial reconstruction. If mouth cancer misdiagnosis led to your cancer progressing, you could make a medical negligence claim.

Here at Your Legal Friend, we know that starting  a claim can seem like a big step,  but we can help.  If you have received substandard care and your outcome affected as a result you will be entitled to financial  compensation that will help you and your family at this difficult time. We also hope that by making the Hospital or GP involved question the way that you were treated you will get answers and it may reduce the chances of the same mistakes being repeated and devastating another family. When you instruct  us you’ll be represented by an expert and friendly team of specialist medical negligence solicitors. We’ll be on hand every step of the way, offering advice and support, and making your claims process as simple as possible.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a mouth cancer claim

If you want to take any medical claim forward, including those for misdiagnosed mouth cancer, you must do so within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’, or the point at when you first realised mistakes had been made in your care.

The ‘date of knowledge’ typically occurs sometime after you first visit your GP with the initial symptoms and, in some cases, you may have been misdiagnosed several times or started treatment before it occurs. As a result, pinpointing the starting point of the time limit can be difficult for some people. If you’re unsure and would like to see if you have a potential mouth cancer malpractice claim that you could receive compensation for, we are here to help. Our expert team has a wealth of knowledge in medical negligence claims and can use their skills and insights to help you understand.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.


While you do have up to 3 years to make a misdiagnosed mouth cancer claim , we recommend that you start the process as soon as possible. Starting sooner means that the process can also conclude quicker, giving you access to the compensation and justice that you deserve. It can also support your claim, as it will be easier to recall details supporting your case in your witness statement and can make obtaining items, such as medical records, a simpler process.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of cancer negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E. Swaffield

Our mouth cancer experience

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of cancer negligence cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a mouth cancer case.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value mouth cancer cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

If you’d like advice as to whether you might be able to pursue a cancer negligence claim, either call our freephone number or submit your details through the form on this page and we’ll be in touch to schedule a phone call at a time that’s convenient for you. If you decide that you’d like to start a claim, one of our medical malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement*, meaning that in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.

The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan
Director of Medical Negligence

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your mouth cancer negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard mouth cancer claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The mouth cancer claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery. You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury. To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss.  As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court.  These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge.  The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case.  We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for mouth cancer misdiagnosis?

It is possible to make a claim for mouth cancer misdiagnosis if you have been affected. There are a range of ways that medical negligence can occur but in order to take a successful claim you must be able to show that medical professionals let you down and caused undue suffering as a result, such as the cancer worsening meaning more extensive surgery was needed.

We will  need  evidence, including medical records, that could show mouth cancer misdiagnosis, for instance, occurred due to:

  • The GP or dentist you first visit failing to recognise the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer
  • A failure to conduct an examination or order further testing for symptoms
  • Test results that could diagnose mouth cancer or rule out other causes being read inaccurately
  • An unnecessary delay in the treatment or referral process

How much compensation will I get?

Mouth cancer claims that are successful receive different amounts of compensation. This is because each case is valued depending on the effect medical negligence has on the patient’s life. As a result, it’s impossible to say how much compensation you could receive without fully understanding your case. However, medical negligence claims, including those for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, can amount to thousands.

In 2014 the NHS paid out over £194 million to patients that had been affected by levels of care that were not up to standard. If you’re pursuing a mouth cancer misdiagnosis claim a wide range of factors will be taken into consideration when calculating its value, such as the effect it had on the treatment options for you and the impact it can have on your quality of life. What’s more, other areas can also be factored in, such as loss of earnings if you’ve been unable to work or extra medical expenses you may have paid.

When you work with us, our expert team will listen to your personal experiences and give your claim a value that reflects the treatment and suffering caused by a missed mouth cancer diagnosis.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you have been affected by medical negligence when you had mouth cancer and would like to make a claim you must do so within 3 years.

Mouth  cancer misdiagnosis claims, as with all medical claims, have 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’ to be taken forward. This term refers to the point that you first realised a mistake had been made with your care, this could include test results being read inaccurately or the misdiagnosis of mouth cancer. In some cases, the ‘date of knowledge’ can occur a significant amount of time after you first visited your GP, making it difficult to understand exactly when this date is. If you’re unsure or would like to check if your case still falls within the specified time frame, you can talk to us.

While you do have up to 3 years to make a claim, we suggest that you seek professional, legal advice as soon as possible. Starting the process sooner means that the details of your case are fresher in your mind and easier to recall, it can also make it easier to obtain supporting documents as evidence, such as medical records. Taking on a mouth cancer malpractice claim can seem like the last thing you want to do while you’re still recovering from cancer but we will explain what needs to be done clearly so that you understand the process.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What causes mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer is caused by cells in the mouth acting abnormally. In the UK there are two leading causes of mouth cancer – tobacco and alcohol – both of these substances are carcinogenic, meaning they have chemicals that can damage the DNA of cells resulting in them becoming cancerous.

Research indicates that more than half of mouth and throat cancer cases are the result of smoking and drinking alcohol causes around a third of cases.

While tobacco and alcohol are known causes of mouth cancer it’s not known exactly why the substances cause only a small number of people to develop the disease. Other mouth cancer risk factors, which can indicate a higher chance of developing oral cancer, include:

  • Chewing tobacco or other smokeless tobacco products
  • Chewing betel nuts with or without tobacco
  • A poor diet
  • The human papilloma virus
  • Mouth conditions that may change the lining of the mouth
  • Certain genetic conditions, such as fanconi anaemia and dyskeratosis cogenita

What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can develop in most parts of the mouth, including the lips, gums, and throat, and where it develops may affect the symptoms that a patient experiences. The most common signs of mouth cancer include:

  • Sore mouth ulcers that don’t heal within several weeks
  • Unexplained and persistent lumps in the mouth that don’t go away
  • Unexplained and persistent lumps in the lymph glands in the neck that don’t go away

Some people may also develop less common symptoms of mouth cancer which may include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Change in your voice or speech problems
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Difficulty in moving your jaw
  • A tooth that becomes loose for no obvious reason or a tooth socket that doesn’t heal
  • Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth

In most cases the symptoms of mouth cancer are related to other conditions. However, the NHS recommends that if you experience any of the potential signs of mouth cancer for longer than 3 weeks an appointment with a GP or dentist should be booked for further examination.

How is mouth cancer diagnosed?

If you’re worried about symptoms that could be mouth cancer you can book an appointment with either your GP or dentist. Whichever you choose, they will ask you about the symptoms you’re experiencing and carry out a physical examination. If mouth cancer is suspected you may be referred to a hospital or a specialist oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

The NHS has guidelines for referring patients after the signs of mouth cancer have been recognised. In some urgent cases, such as a patient that has an unexplained ulceration in the oral cavity that has lasted more than 3 weeks, this should be within 2 weeks.

Mouth cancer is typically diagnosed via a biopsy, a procedure that involves removing a small sample of cells from the suspected cancerous area for testing in a lab. There is more than one type of biopsy that can be used to achieve a mouth cancer diagnosis, which one is chosen will depend on a range of factors, such as how accessible the affected tissue is.

If the biopsy shows that cancer is present a specialist will be able to say what type of mouth cancer it is and the grade of the cancer, indicating how aggressive the cancer is. At this point you’ll also be required to undergo further testing, allowing the team responsible for your care to assess the stage of the cancer and whether it has spread, although it is rare for mouth cancer to spread beyond the lymph glands in the neck. These additional tests may include:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound scan
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • PET scan

Can mouth cancer be misdiagnosed?

It is possible for mouth cancer to be misdiagnosed either by a GP or by a dentist. During the initial stages the signs of mouth cancer may be wrongly linked to other causes, such as irritation and sores being the result of a sharp tooth. However, persistent signs of mouth cancer should be further examined and referred to a specialist. Where this hasn’t occurred it may be possible to make a claim for medical negligence.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

How is mouth cancer treated?

The prognosis following a mouth cancer diagnosis is often very good, particularly if it’s diagnosed during the earliest stages. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your circumstances, for example, considering how far the cancer has spread and your general health. In some cases, a complete cure may be possible with just surgery, in others radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be required to control the disease.

The team that’s responsible for your care will recommend a treatment option but the final say remains with the patient. Treatment for mouth cancer can include:

  • Surgery

Surgery is often used to treat mouth cancer and can be used as a complete cure in some early stage cases. All surgery aims to remove the cancerous tissue and minimise the damage to other areas. However, in some cases in may be necessary to remove part of the mouth lining, facial skin, tongue, or jaw bone to get rid of the cancer completely. Where bones or skin need to be removed it is possible to replace these from other parts of the body or use 3D printing technology. Lymph nodes may also be removed, often as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

  • Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. It uses doses of radiation to kill cancerous cells that may have been left behind. Where the cancer has developed in the tongue and is still in the early stages, internal radiotherapy, where radioactive implants are placed into the tumour, may also be an option.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemo is typically only used to treat mouth cancer alongside radiotherapy if the cancer is widespread or there’s a substantial risk that it will return. The cancer-killing medicines aim to stop the cancerous cells from multiplying.

There are also other treatment options that may be recommend as either alternatives or to work alongside the main options in certain circumstances. These include cetuximab and photodynamic therapy.

What are the different types of mouth cancer?

There are different types of mouth cancer depending on the cells that the cancer first started to develop in. The type of mouth cancer that you have should be determined at the diagnosis stage and can have an impact on the treatment options that are recommend for you.

Squamous cells are the flat, skin like cells that cover the inside of the mouth, nose, larynx, and throat. The majority of mouth cancers start in these cells, with more than 90% of oral cancer being diagnosed as squamous cell cancers of the mouth and oropharynx.

There are other types of mouth cancer, although they account for just 10% of cases between them and are therefore less likely to occur. These include:

  • Salivary gland cancer – Salivary glands line the mouth and the middle part of the threat. In most cases, lumps that develop in this area turn out to be benign but they may be cancerous and testing is important as a result.
  • Adenoid cystic cancer – This type of cancer is rare and develops from glandular tissue. The parotid gland is where the cancer is most likely to occur but tumours are only cancerous in the gland in around a quarter of cases.
  • Lymphoma – Lymphomas are cancers that affect the lymph nodes and these are present around the tongue and tonsils, as well as other parts of the body. If you have lymphoma cancer your treatment is likely to be different to other mouth cancer types.
  • Melanoma – Melanoma develops in the cells that produce the pigment that colours our skin. It can occur anywhere on the skin, including the mouth.

What is the mouth cancer survival rate?

Across the UK in 2014 there were 11,449 cases of head and neck cancer and 2,386 deaths as a result of the disease.

The statistics on mouth cancer survival rates aren’t as precise as others. For instance, between 19% and 59% of people diagnosed with head and neck cancers survive their disease for more than a decade, while between 61% and 86% will survive their diagnosis for a year or more. There are many factors that affect the mouth cancer survival rate, including the type of cancer present, the age of the patient, and the stage the cancer is at when it’s diagnosed.

According to Cancer Research UK, over 90% of oral cancer cases could be preventable through lifestyle changes, including cutting down tobacco and alcohol consumption and increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten.