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Smoking and Tobacco

Bumps on inside of lip from chewing

05/13/2008

Question:

Hi, I`ve recently developed small bumps in the inside of my lower lip. I have been chewing a bit. I`m only 16, but chewed once and a while last year (1-2 times a month maybe). Within the last month or so, I have been chewing 1-2 times a day and for the past week, I have been chewing 3-4 times a day. I`ve decided to quit for sure after searching the internet (which as it turns out can be a very scary place to look for answers). I know lots of people my age who have developed the same thing that I have in my lip, but usually for the people who chew more often have bumps that are usually white on the tops. The bumps have only been apparent for the past day or two. From what these people have told me, they would quit for a week or two and the bumps would go away (too bad most of them started chewing again). So in the end, I`m wondering what these bumps could be. I`m sure that it`s from chew. I`m also really scared that I`ve damaged my body. Naturally, the first thought that comes to mind is cancer and losing my jaw like I`ve seen on the internet. I`m probably just over reacting, but it`s hard not to be worried. These bumps are maybe 1mm in diameter and there`s probably 15 of them where I would normally put the "dip." And to make sure that it`s clear, I`ve been using dipping tobacco such as Skoal or Copenhagen between my gums and lip. Please let me know what you think this is! I`m worried. Thank you.

Answer:

It is hard to diagnose what you have without seeing it -- and perhaps taking a biopsy -- but I suspect you have a localized form of keratosis, an overgrowth of your mouth tissue in response to ongoing irritation. Most keratoses are considered pre-malignant. That is to say, over time, a certain percentage will turn to cancer if the irritation and inflammation continue.

I have two suggestions. First Google (Images): "oral cancer chew." Pick one of those attractive pictures and print two copies. Tape one to your mirror and one to the lid of your can of chew. Second: go see your dentist or doctor and have them look at these things.

You're obviously way too smart, even at 16, to be doing this when your mouth is literally screaming at you to quit.

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Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University