Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer
What is lip and oral cavity cancer?
Lip and oral cavity cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the lips or in the mouth. This means any cancer in the gums, front ⅔ of the tongue, the bottom of the mouth, the area behind the wisdom teeth, the roof of the mouth, and the lining of the cheeks.
What are the symptoms of lip and oral cavity cancer?
Signs and symptoms of this cancer include:
- Sores or lumps on the lips or in the mouth
- Changes in voice
- Discolored patches
- Bleeding, pain, and numbness
- Swollen jaw
- Sore throat
- Loose teeth
- Issues with chewing and swallowing
- Sores that do not heal
- Thickening of the lips or gums
What causes lip and oral cavity cancer?
Medical professionals know that the majority of lip and oral cavity cancers start in the squamous cells, but they are unsure as to why exactly the malignant cells form. However, they have identified risk factors. Tobacco and alcohol use are two major risk factors. Being exposed to artificial or natural sunlight for long periods and being male also increase the risk of developing this cancer.
How is lip and oral cavity cancer diagnosed?
A physical exam of the mouth is the first step in diagnosing this cancer. Tests will follow, such as an endoscopy, biopsy, CT scan, exfoliative cytology, MRI, bone scan, PET scan, and barium swallow. These tests are used to both diagnose and stage the cancer.
What are the treatments for lip and oral cavity cancer?
Surgery and radiation are the standard for treating lip and oral cavity cancer, but there are other methods being studied in clinical trials: chemotherapy, hyperthermia therapy, and hyperfractionated radiation therapy.