Lip cancer is a rare form of oral cancer that occurs anywhere on the upper or lower lip. Melanoma on lip often gets diagnosed later due to what some people perceive as mere cosmetic inconveniences such as sores and swellings. This confusion is why it is essential to pay attention to any unusual changes in the lips. It is considered a type of skin cancer on the lip.
As mentioned above, lip cancer frequently presents itself as small sores or swelling around the area of the lips. It is indispensable to watch for the presence of lumps, bumps, ulcers, red patches, or discoloration of the skin. Other possible symptoms include:
Symptoms may resemble those of an STI (sexually transmitted infection) so it's significant to pay close attention to any changes around the area of the lips. If there's something wrong with an individual's lips, they should mention it to their doctor immediately in order to receive treatment before their condition worsens.
There are three main types of oral cancer stages.
- Keratinizing Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of lip cancer forms in the thin uppermost layer of skin called the stratum corneum.
- Basaloid/Warty Carcinoma: Considered the rarest of all types and what you'd find in the rest of the skin. Warty-basaloid carcinomas are human papillomavirus-related penile neoplasms biologically more aggressive than typical warty carcinoma.
- Lymphoepithelioma: This type of cancer develops in other body areas, such as lymph nodes and salivary glands.
Treatment for melanoma on the lip usually depends on what type an individual has. Fortunately, most types have high survival and cure rate if caught early enough to treat it. The treatment also depends on the size of the tumor. Cancer smaller than 5 mm in diameter may need simple excision, while larger ones may require more aggressive methods such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Surgery: Surgery is always recommended as a lip cancer treatment to remove any tumors found on the lips before it metastasizes. A doctor may do lip cancer surgery through either local or general anesthesia, depending on the size of cancer. Lip cancers that are superficial in nature may be removed using a scalpel or with an instrument called a curette (used to scrape off abnormal tissues).
Keratinizing Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Treatment may include surgery to remove the cancerous cells and what's left of the skin.
Basaloid/Warty Carcinoma: A combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy aids in getting rid of the tumor to prevent its recurrence.
Lymphoepithelioma: The treatment needed for this type of cancer is chemotherapy.
People at high risk for cancer on the lip are usually those who live in rural areas with little access to medical care. For example, the North American Indian population is at high risk for this type of cancer because of their outdoor lifestyle. Other risk factors are:
Preventing lip cancer starts by protecting one's lips from direct exposure to ultraviolet rays. Lip balm with a minimum SPF of 15 is also recommended as well as avoiding smoking. An individual may reduce lip cancer risk by avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, especially when it's at its peak during mid-day hours. One should also avoid outdoor exposure during months when more UV rays, such as May, June, July, and August. Other important ways to prevent cancer on the lip are: