Lip cancer is a prevalent type cancer that develops in the oral cavity. There are two types of lip cancers: basal cell and squamous cell. Basal cell carcinomas develop in the last epidermal section while squamous cancers can grow in even lower skin layers. Basal cell cancers are more prevalent than squamous cell cancers and less likely to spread to other areas of the body.
Certain infections, like HPV, can increase the risk of lip cancer development. Lip cancers can also be caused by immunosuppression; for instance, if a person has undergone surgery for an organ transplant, then certain drugs must be taken so that the implant isn’t rejected by the body. However, these drugs can cause the immune system to be vulnerable, thus increasing the risk for other conditions, like cancer.
Lifestyle choices like smoking, sitting out in the sun too long, and consuming lots of alcohol can all contribute to lip cancer. Lastly, men with lighter-toned skin are also at a higher risk compared to other demographics.
A person may have lip cancer if they have a light-toned or dark-toned area on the inside of their mouth. An ulcer, lump, or blister that develops on the lips and doesn’t heal could be a sign of cancer. Pain while swallowing or discomfort in the mouth, ears, or cheeks is common. Chronic sore throats, coughing, or swollen lymph nodes are also common signs of this cancer.
Treatments include cryotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are all options for lip cancer. Since lip cancer rarely spreads to other areas of the body, these treatments have a good success rate if a patient seeks out a doctor’s help early on. In more severe cases, portions of the mouth, larynx, or lymph nodes may need to be removed.