Are You At Risk of Getting Lip Cancer?
Lip cancer is the most common form of oral cancer. The risk of developing lip cancer is greater for some people than for other. Men over the age of 40 are in the risk group but everyone is at risk especially if the use tobacco or alcohol, or have a history of head or neck cancer.
Interestingly, this type of skin cancer usually occurs on the lower lip. Lip cancer can also spread to the head and neck areas.
Most lip cancers start in squamous cells. Those are the thin, flat cells that line the lips. These cancer cells are known as squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops in areas of leukoplakia (white patches of cells that do not rub off).
The risk factors for lip cancer are the same as for skin cancer with sun exposure being one of the highest risk factors. We can, however, reduce that risk by avoiding the sun and using a lip balm with sunscreen.
Other risk factors include: using tobacco products; heavy alcohol use; being male; or being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Some of the symptoms of oral or lip cancer are:
-A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal.
-A lump or thickening on the lips or gums or in the mouth.
-A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth.
-Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the lip or mouth.
Note: Lip cancer may not have any symptoms and is sometimes found during a regular visit to the dentist.
Note: These symptoms could be indication of other medical conditions.
Some of the tests and procedures used to detect lip or oral cancer are:
-Physical exam of the lips and oral cavity.
-Endoscopy: A procedure to look at organs and tissues inside the body to check for abnormal areas.
-X-rays of the head, neck, and chest.
-Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist.
-Exfoliative cytology: A procedure to collect cells from the lip or oral cavity.
-PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body.
Prognosis or chances of recovery depends on certain factors. The factors would include the stage of the cancer and where the tumor is in the lip or mouth. It also depend on whether the cancer has spread to blood vessels.
The treatment options would depend on the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor and where the tumor is located in the lip. Whether the patient’s appearance and ability to talk and eat can stay the same would also be taken into consideration.
It is easily to overlook the symptoms of lip or oral until more invasive treatments have to be used. If you have any hints that you be developing this type of cancer don’t put off going to your doctor to get them checked out.