One of the most common forms of oral cancer is lip cancer. The following health article will cover some information related to symptoms of this form of cancer. This will help one understand the early signs of this cancer and seek immediate medical help.
Cancer that develops in the mouth is referred to as mouth cancer or oral cancer. The sites where these cancers develop include lips, tongue, gums, inner lining of cheeks, palate as well as the base of the mouth. One of the most common forms of oral cancers is lip cancer. This cancer is very common in people over the age of 40 years and the male gender. Experts have estimated that there are about 10% to 15% cases of lip cancer from a total of 26,000 new oral cancers reported annually in the United States. This indicates it is not a disease that can be taken lightly.
What is Lip Cancer?
It is a type of oral cancer that can affect the tissues of the lip. The uncontrollable growth of cells in the lip tissues leads to formation of the cancer. This cancer can spread to other parts of the mouth and face. It can spread as the nerves in the lips are interconnected with other nerves in the face. When the cancer forms in the flat cells of the lips, mouth and tongue, it is referred to as oral squamous cell carcinoma. The symptoms are often non-specific. They appear similar to a non-serious conditions and thus overlooked. However, early detection of the cancer will help in maximum treatment of the condition.
Factors that Lead to Lip Cancer
It is often seen in people who live in areas that receive maximum sunlight. Even the slightest damage by the sun, can lead to cancer of the lips. Other risk factors that lead to cancer of the lips include:
- Excessive use of tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco
- Chronic and heavy alcohol use
- Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Light colored skin people exposed to a lot of sunlight
- Common in men and people over the age of 40 to 45 years of age
The signs are often similar to other health conditions that are not very serious. Many times, dentists tend to observe presence of oral cancers during a routine dental examination. Some of the symptoms are listed out below.
People who develop sores on their lips or within the mouth like a cold sore that does not heal for a long time, may indicate lip cancer.
A lump on the lip or the mouth that may be painful and does not heal quickly indicates cancer. This lump may even be present in the throat, indicating an oral cancer.
An unusual white or red patch on the gums, tongue or the inner lining of the mouth or under the inner side of the lip may indicate cancer.
Bleeding from the lip from the ulcers or sores that do not heal.
Change in color of the lips or a small patch on the lip may indicate the presence of cancerous cells.
Constant or persistent numbness, tingling, pain or paresthesia in the lips for no reason at all may be one of the symptoms.
Lips are generally soft and supple in nature. But, if you feel the lip(s) are hardening or thickening in a particular area, it is better to pay a visit to a doctor.
If one observes other serious symptoms like loss of consciousness, high fever, excessive bleeding from lips, rapid heartbeat and lethargy along with any of the above symptoms, visit a medical health care provider immediately.
Lip cancer treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, degree of its spread around other mouth parts, age of patient as well as his/her overall health. This condition is found to be easily treated especially when diagnosed during the early stages. These cancers can be surgically removed or treated with radiation therapy. In case the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues, one may have to undergo a combination of treatment. Other treatments suggested include chemotherapy and targeted therapy that attacks cancer cells directly.
Cancer of the lips after spreading and developing into an advanced stage, can lead to certain complications. These complications include inability to eat, drink, talk and even breath. It may spread to other mouth parts like tongue, cheeks, jaws, etc. It can even metastasize to other distant body organs and even spread to the lymph nodes. One of the most horrifying complications is change in physical appearance.
As you can see, lip cancer too is one of the many serious and complicated cancers. In order to prevent cancer of the lips, one needs to avoid excessive sun exposure. One should quit smoking and using tobacco products completely. It will even help if one controls their alcohol drinking habit to a great extent. Unprotected sex with unknown partners should also be avoided. For more information, speak to a health care provider for details.