Lip Cancer

Cancer » Lip Cancer

Lip cancer is one of the most common types of oral cancers. It originates mainly in the lips and can be very dangerous if not treated in time. Though the cases of this type of cancer are rare worldwide, it is still a form of cancer and may spread to other organs also. The damage may be irreparable and timely treatment is the only option to get rid of these malignant cells.

Understanding the disease

Lip cancer occurs in lips and affects many important activities of the victim. Lips are the main opening of the mouth and play an important role in the food intake. They also enable a person to speak and pronounce the words correctly and make different sounds through his mouth. They are soft, flexible and the lower lip is generally larger than the upper lip.

Development of cancerous cells in the lips can be damaging as it will impact the ability to intake food and will also affect a person's speaking abilities. Lips also play an important role in presenting important gestures like frown, smile, etc. It is also one of the most sensitive organs of the body and plays a crucial role in sexual activities. Hence, presence of cancerous cells in the lips may put restriction on many basic but important activities of a person.

Lip cancer develops mostly in the lower lip and spreads to other areas gradually. The cancerous cells initially attack the cell layer present on the surface of the lips and penetrate further as the intensity of the disease increase. In most of the cases, the cancerous or malignant cells develop in the squamous cells (squamous cells are the cells forming the layer of the lips). Hence, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of this cancer. The malignant cells spread rapidly and form cancerous tumors. Basal cell cancer is another type of cancer of the lips. The infected cells are less harmful as compared to those in the squamous cell carcinoma and do not spread to other areas.

Tumors formed by the infected cells can be benign or cancerous. Benign tumors usually do not invade the healthy tissues. They are less destructive and do not spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors are completely curable and the chance of their recurrence is very less. On the contrary, cancerous tumors are highly destructive and cause the maximum damage possible. Their primary targets are the live and healthy tissues present on the surface of the lips and obstruct their functioning. They also attack live cells present in the adjacent areas and replace them by the infected malignant cells. A tumor is formed when an excess number of malignant cells accumulate in a particular area. The tumor can also spread to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. It is quite difficult to eliminate the malignant cells as they may recur after a certain period.

Basic tips to tackle lip cancer

Lip Cancer

Cancer of the lips is curable if detected in early stages. The malignant cells spread gradually in the initial stages and increase the pace with the intensity of the disease. There are many important causes leading to the development of cancerous cells in the lips. Smoking and tobacco chewing is the most important cause of the disease and plays a destructive role in hampering the health of tissues. Person who is exposed excessively to sunlight is also at a grave risk of being a victim of the disease. Excess consumption of alcohol should be avoided. Males, usually above the age of 40 years, are more prone to the cancer.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is another important cause of the disease. The virus develops in the body through unsafe sexual activities and having multiple sex-partners. HPV plays a destructive role in damaging the immune system of the body, which may lead to many other disorders. A strong immune system is extremely important to resist or tackle the development of cancerous cells. Include fresh fruits, salad and vegetables in your daily diet. Avoid unhygienic and oily food. Unusual weight loss or loss of appetite must be consulted with a physician immediately. In some cases, the cancer may develop in other areas of the body and reach the lips at a later stage. Hence, a regular and thorough medical check-up is very important.

Surgery is the most common line of treatment if the lip cancer is in its initial stages. But frequent removal of infected tissues from lips may severely affect the victim's speaking and eating abilities. Hardening or soaring of lips must be diagnosed at the earliest. Also, a lump in the lip is an important indicator of the presence of a tumor. Uneasiness or pain in lips movement is another important symptom to look for.

Many basic diagnosing techniques are available worldwide to examine the nature and intensity of the cancer. Computed tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan), ultrasound, biopsy and X-rays are used to detect the origin and development of tumors. Lips and other oral areas are also checked physically to detect for primary symptoms. Endoscopy is also a useful technique to find out the impact of cancerous cells on the victim's internal body. Other tests like positron emission tomography scan (PET scan), exfoliative cytology and barium swallow are also advised in some cases.

Lip cancer is one of the uncommon types of oral cancers and can be treated completely by following a systematic line of treatment. Chemical treatment (also known as chemotherapy) or radiation treatment (also known as radiotherapy) are some of the common treatments advised if the cancer is in advanced stages. Lip surgery is the most widely used therapy for the patients with cancer in the initial or middle stages. Some treatments may lead to severe side effects and can cause irreversible damage to the treated area or the whole body. Hence, the victim should understand the nature and usefulness of treatment thoroughly before opting for it.

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