Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer
Lip and oral cavity cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lips or mouth.
The oral cavity includes the following:
Most lip and oral cavity cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips and oral cavity. These are called squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer cells may spread into deeper tissue as the cancer grows. Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops in areas of leukoplakia (white patches of cells that do not rub off).
Lip and oral cavity cancer is a type of head and neck cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol use can affect the risk of lip and oral cavity cancer.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for lip and oral cavity cancer include the following:
Signs of lip and oral cavity cancer include a sore or lump on the lips or in the mouth.
- 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, or lining of the mouth.
- Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the lip or mouth.
- Change in voice.
- Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well.
- Trouble chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw.
- Swelling of jaw.
- Sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat.
Lip and oral cavity cancer may not have any symptoms and is sometimes found during a regular dental exam.
Adapted from the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query (PDQ(r)) Cancer Information Summaries (http://www.cancer.gov/
For more information:
Go to the Oral Cancer health topic.