Lip cancer affects the skin of the lips. It can develop anywhere along the upper or lower lip, but it is most commonly found on the lower lip, says Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, a head and neck cancer surgeon in Kolkata.
Most lip cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which begin in the thin, flat cells of the skin’s middle and outer layers known as squamous cells.
Lip cancer is typically treated with surgery to remove cancer. Surgery for small lip cancers may be a minor procedure with little impact on your appearance.
More extensive surgery may be required for larger lip cancers. With careful planning and reconstruction, you can keep your ability to eat and speak normally and maintain a pleasing appearance after surgery, says the best head and neck cancer doctor in Kolkata.
It is unknown what exactly causes lip cancer.
In general, cancer develops when cells’ DNA undergoes changes (mutations). The DNA of a cell contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do. The changes instruct the cells to uncontrollably multiply and to live when healthy cells would die. When this happens the cells clump together to form a tumour, invading and destroying normal body tissue.
Lip cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A whitish discoloration of the lip that is flat or slightly raised
- An unhealed sore on your lip
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the lips or around the mouth
According to the best head and neck cancer doctor in Kolkata, factors that can raise your risk of developing lip cancer include:
- Any form of tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco
- Light skin tone
- Excessive exposure to the sun
- Immune system deficiency
You can lower your risk of developing lip cancer by doing the following:
Stop using tobacco if you do. Don’t start smoking if you don’t already. Tobacco use, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in your lips to carcinogenic chemicals that increase the chance of developing lip cancer.
Stay out of the sun
Sun exposure can significantly increase you risk of developing cancer. Try to avoid direct sunlight exposure. Even on cloudy or winter days, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen liberally and re-apply every two hours — or more frequently if you’re sweating.
Avoid using tanning beds
Avoid tanning beds as they emit UV rays, increasing your risk of developing lip cancer, says the head and neck cancer surgeon in Kolkata.