Oakwood Solicitors

Oral Cancer

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What is Oral Cancer?

Oral or Mouth Cancer is where a tumour develops in the mouth. It could be located:

  • On the tongue.
  • The inside of the cheek.
  • Roof of the mouth.
  • Lips.
  • Gums.

They can also develop towards the back of the mouth, such as:

  • Glands that make saliva.
  • Tonsils.
  • The pharynx which connects the mouth to the windpipe.


Oral Cancer


What are the Symptoms?

  • Ulcers that take a longer time to heal.
  • Lumps in the mouth that don’t recover or get larger.
  • Lumps in the neck that don’t recover or get larger.
  • Teeth become loose.
  • Numbness to the lip or tongue.
  • White or red patches on the tongue or mouth.
  • Changes to speech.
  • Ear pain.
  • Difficult or painful swallowing.
  • Changes to sense such as taste smell or hearing.
  • Numbness or tingling on the face or neck.

Who is Affected?

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. It is not as common in the UK and makes up 2% of all cancers.

  • 6800 people are diagnosed each year.
  • It affects older adults in the age range of 50 to 74. Only about 12% of people affected are under 50.
  • HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus (warts or cold sores generally) can cause cancer in younger patients.
  • It affects more men than women.

A complete cure is possible in 90% of cases if detected early enough, whilst 60% of patients with mouth cancer will live at least five years after their diagnosis.

What are the Causes?

Mouth cancers form in the flat, thin cells of the lips and mouth. These are usually squamous cell carcinomas. It is not clear what causes cells in the mouth to start mutating and cause cancer but there are certain factors that might contribute:

  • Smoking or using other kinds of tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • HPV – Human Papilloma Virus.
  • Sun exposure to the lips.
  • Immunosuppression.

Oral Cancer


How is it Diagnosed?

The first port of call is to visit your GP or dentist and speak to them about the symptoms. Often a dentist may be the first person to notice changes in your mouth. If there is any suspicion of oral cancer then you may get referred to a specialist for the following:

  • Endoscopy – A camera is put down the throat to check for obvious cancer signs
  • Lymph node biopsy – The doctor uses a fine needle to take a sample of cells from the lymph node in the neck. The cells will then be examined.
  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • CT Scan
  • MRI scan

How is Mouth Cancer Treated?

There are three main treatment options for mouth cancer:

  • Surgery– The cells are removed along with the surrounding cells to make sure that all cancer is removed.
  • Radiotherapy– Where high-energy X-rays are used to kill cancerous cells.
  • Chemotherapy– Where powerful medications are used to kill cancerous cells.

The treatments are usually used in tandem with each other to ensure the cells are killed.

What are the Different Types of Mouth Cancers?

Mouth cancer is categorised by the type of cell the cancer (carcinoma) starts in.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma – This is the most common type of cancer with 9 out of 10 cancers being this kind.
  • Adenocarcinomas– Develop in the salivary glands
  • Sarcomas– Abnormalities in the bone, muscle, body tissue, and cartilage
  • Oral malignant melanomas– This starts in the cells that produce skin pigment and they often bleed
  • Lymphomas– Found in lymph glands but can also develop in the mouth



How Do You Prevent Mouth Cancer?

The three most effective ways to stop mouth cancer developing or prevent it returning are:

  • Not smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol.
  • Eating healthily.
  • Regular dental check-ups.

How Do I Make a Claim?

Claims surrounding oral cancer generally involve either a delay in diagnosing the cancer or a delay in providing appropriate treatment for the same. If you consider that your diagnosis or treatment has been affected as a result of the actions of a medical professional, you may be able to bring about a claim for compensation.

The team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

Who Can Make a Claim?

The victim of the negligence can bring about a claim. However, it can sadly be the case that the patient is no longer with us. In such circumstances, the executor of the estate and/or the surviving dependents may be able to bring about an action.

Our specialist team will be able to advise whether you are able to bring about a claim and answer any questions you have in a no-obligation free consultation.



How Long Do I Have to Bring About a Claim?

Claims of this nature are time-sensitive. As a victim of negligence, you will have three years to commence Court proceedings from either the date the negligence occurred or the date you became aware that negligence had occurred.

Claims brought on behalf of deceased loved ones are subject to a three year period to bring about a claim from the date of death.

Our specialist team will talk you through timeframes and answer any questions you may have. As these claims are lengthy to conclude, the sooner you start investigations, the better.

How Long Will My Case Take to Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued.

Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion. We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – An award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – An award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future.

This list is not exhaustive and is very case-specific.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon and medical terms that they don’t understand.  We want to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How Is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations. If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point.

The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Cancer Research UK


If you have been affected by late or misdiagnosed oral cancer, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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