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
Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time.
Signs of lip and oral cavity cancer include a sore or
lump on the lips or in the mouth.
These and other signs
may be caused by lip and oral cavity
cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not
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.
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.
Tests that examine the mouth and throat are used to detect
(find), diagnose, and stage lip and oral cavity cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
of the lips and oral cavity: An exam to check the lips and oral cavity for abnormal
areas. The medical doctor or dentist
will feel the entire inside of the mouth with a gloved finger and examine the oral cavity with a small
long-handled mirror and lights. This will include checking the insides of the cheeks and lips; the gums; the roof and floor of the mouth; and the top, bottom, and sides of the tongue. The neck will be felt for swollen lymph nodes. A history
of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and medical and dental treatments will also be taken.
Endoscopy: A procedure to look at organs
and tissues inside the body to check for abnormal areas. An endoscope
is inserted through an incision
(cut) in the skin or opening in the body, such as the mouth. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens
for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue or lymph node samples, which are checked under a microscope
for signs of disease.
Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist. If leukoplakia is found, cells taken from the patches are also checked under the microscope for signs of cancer.
Exfoliative cytology: A procedure to collect cells from the lip or oral cavity. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.
resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye
may be injected
into a vein
or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
(positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignanttumor
cells in the body. A small amount of radioactiveglucose
(sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner
rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
Bone scan: A procedure to check if there are rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, in the bone. A very small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive material collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance
of recovery) and treatment options.
For patients who smoke, the chance of recovery is better if they stop smoking before beginning radiation therapy.
Treatment options depend on the following:
The stage of the cancer.
The size of the tumor and where it is in the lip or oral cavity.
Whether the patient's appearance and ability to talk and eat can stay the same.
The patient's age and general health.
Patients who have had lip and oral cavity cancer have an increased risk of developing a second
in the head or neck. Frequent and
is important. Clinical trials
are studying the use of retinoiddrugs
to reduce the risk of a second head and neck cancer. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.