Understanding Lip Cancer

Lip cancer is a malignant tumor that develops due to an uncontrolled and autonomous growth of cells in the lips. It is a relatively rare form of malignancy. A majority of cases of lip cancer occur due to squamous cell carcinoma.

Symptoms of Lip Cancer

Clinical manifestations of lip cancer vary from individual to individual; they depend up on the stage of the cancer and its extent.

During the early stages of lip cancer, there, may not be any symptoms at all.
Gradually, a lesion / sore develop on the lips. Usually, the lesion does not heal.
The lesion bleeds easily.
There may also be a discolored lump / a thickening on the lips.

Risk factors for Lip Cancer

Smokers and individuals who drink excessive alcohol are at grave risk of developing lip cancer.
Chewing tobacco is also an important risk factor.
Exposure to sunlight increases the risk as well.
HPV infection also poses as a risk.

Treating Lip Cancer

The treatment for lip cancer largely depends on when the diagnosis is made, the type of cancer cells, the stage of advancement, extent of spread, the patient's age and general health.

Lip cancer is most treatable when identified in the early stages of the disease. Untreated and/or advanced conditions spread into neighboring structures of the mouth and neck. It may also spread via lymph and blood to distant organs.

The health care team to manage lip cancer includes: medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, dentists, and registered nurses specializing in cancer care.

Surgery is performed to remove the tumor mass from the lip. Some healthy tissue adjacent to the cancerous area is also excised. During the procedure, nearby lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck may also be excised to prevent spread and recurrences.

Radiation therapy is also done to ensure that all the tumor cells have been killed.
The treatment also incorporates chemotherapy.

For individuals in whom the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage and may have become terminal, the objective of the treatment changes. The treatment pattern shifts from curing to focusing on measures to keep the individual comfortable and to capitalize on the quality of life. Treatment may be administered through a hospice program.