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Lip Cancer

Lip cancer, which can occur on the lower or upper lip, can be treated through advanced surgical techniques and advanced oncological methods. Early diagnosis is important in lip cancer, known to affect men predominantly, as in any other type of cancer. Lip cancer can be effectively treated with both advanced surgery and advanced oncological methods. Information about lip cancer and lip tumors was provided by the Department of Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases of Uniqacare.

What is lip cancer?


Lip cancer refers to malignant tumors that develop in the mucous membrane and skin of the lips. While lip cancer can appear on the upper or lower lip, it is most commonly observed on the lower lip. The majority of lip cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which originate from thin, flat cells known as squamous cells in the middle and outer layers of the skin. Risk factors for lip cancer include excessive sun exposure and tobacco use. Protecting your face from the sun with a hat or sunscreen and quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of lip cancer.


In the treatment of lip cancer, surgical methods are often employed to remove cancerous tissues. For small lip cancers, surgery may be a minor procedure with minimal impact on your appearance. Larger lip cancers may require more extensive surgery. Careful planning and reconstruction can help preserve your ability to eat and speak normally and achieve a satisfactory appearance after surgery. Advanced cancer treatments and surgical techniques can restore both health and appearance. It's essential to consult with a specialist physician about treatment options and determine the appropriate methods early on.


What are the causes of lip cancer?


The causes of lip cancer are often a subject of curiosity. While the exact cause of lip cancer is not clear, there are certain risk factors associated with it. Generally, cancer begins when cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. These changes lead to an increased rate of cell division, causing certain tissue cells to rapidly multiply. These rapidly dividing cells come together to form a tumor.


Lifestyle influences the risk of lip cancer. Smoking, using other tobacco products, excessive alcohol consumption, direct exposure to sunlight, having fair skin, being male, HPV infection, and being over 40 years old are all among the reasons for lip cancer. These factors can also be considered as risk factors for lip cancer.


What are the symptoms of lip cancer?


The symptoms of lip cancer include:

  • Flat or slightly raised whitish color changes on the lips.

  • A non-healing sore or scabbing on the lips.

  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the lips or skin around the mouth.

Lip cancer might not show symptoms initially. Doctors can notice lip cancer during routine examinations.


How is lip cancer diagnosed?


If you have symptoms of lip cancer, it's important to see your doctor. Doctors will want to examine the affected area. During the examination, your personal medical history, smoking and alcohol history, dental treatments you've had, family medical history, and medications you're taking will be inquired about. If there is suspicion of lip cancer, a biopsy can be performed. A small sample is taken from the area and sent to a pathology laboratory. If biopsy results confirm lip cancer, doctors may conduct a series of other tests to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. These tests may include MRI, CT scans, complete blood count, PET/CT scans, and chest X-rays. After the diagnosis, the treatment phase begins.


What are the treatment methods of lip cancer?


There are various treatment methods for lip cancer. The following are used for the treatment of lip cancer:


Surgery: Surgery is used to remove lip cancer and the surrounding healthy tissue margin. The surgeon then reconstructs the lip for normal eating, drinking, and speaking. Techniques may also be used to minimize scarring. For small lip cancers, lip reconstruction after surgery can be a straightforward procedure. However, larger lip cancers may require skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeons for lip reconstruction. Reconstructive surgery can transfer tissue and skin from another part of the body to the lip. The resulting defect area is corrected with minimal scarring and loss of function. Additionally, the removal of cancerous lymph nodes in the neck may be necessary, in which case neck dissection is added to the surgery.


Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams like X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be targeted only to your lip or may also target lymph nodes in your neck. This application varies depending on the condition of the disease.


Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. For lip cancer, chemotherapy is sometimes used in conjunction with radiation therapy to enhance its effectiveness. In cases of advanced lip cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy can be used to reduce symptoms.


Targeted drug therapy: Targeted drug therapies focus on specific vulnerabilities present in cancer cells. By targeting these vulnerabilities, targeted drug therapies can help eliminate cancer cells. Targeted drug therapy is often combined with chemotherapy. This treatment approach also varies depending on the condition of the disease.


Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. Your body's immune system, which fights diseases, might be inadequate against cancer because cancer cells produce proteins that help them evade immune cells. Immunotherapy intervenes in this process. For lip cancer, immunotherapy can be considered when the cancer has progressed and other treatments are not an option.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT LIP CANCER


Does the mouth return to its previous state after lip cancer surgery?


In lip cancer surgeries (lip tumor surgery), after the tumor is removed, the repair process is carried out through aesthetic surgical procedures. The surgeries are planned to leave the least visible scar. Depending on the skin type, a small amount of scarring may remain. Due to the removal of lip tissue, there might be some shrinkage in the mouth. However, this shrinkage does not affect the patient's eating or speaking. Although there might be minor disruptions in pronunciation in the early stages, these problems disappear once healing is complete.


Does eating the lip cause cancer?


Depending on the season and skin type, lips can sometimes become cracked and flaky. Many people might be uncomfortable with this situation and may play with or peel the lip skin, which can lead to wounds on the lips. If a wound remains open for many years and trauma continues, it can lead to the development of cancer.


Which doctor should be consulted for lip cancer?


For lip cancer or lip tumor, it is appropriate to consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor.

At what age does lip cancer occur? Lip cancer is generally known to affect individuals over 40 years old, especially among those who work under the sun, use tobacco products, and have fair skin. Although it is often seen as a disease of males, it can also occur in females.


Does lip cancer go away?


If lip cancer is treated correctly and with all procedures, and an appropriate surgery is performed, it is a type of cancer that does not recur. However, if the disease recurs, it does not necessarily mean that all hope is lost. With comprehensive and proper treatment, the patient can recover.


How can lip cancer be prevented?


Lip cancer can be prevented by avoiding all forms of tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, and by especially avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight. Additionally, excessive exposure to tanning beds should also be avoided. Many cases of lip cancer are initially discovered by dentists or ear, nose, and throat specialists. Therefore, regular oral and dental check-ups are important. Maintaining a healthy diet, regular lifestyle, and paying attention to sleep patterns are also important factors.


Is lip cancer contagious?


Lip cancer or any type of cancer is not contagious. It does not spread through handshakes, cheek-to-cheek kisses, or sexual contact.


Where on the lip is lip cancer usually found?


Lip cancer is most commonly found on the lower lip and upper lip. Therefore, many people might search the internet for terms like "lower lip tumor," "lower lip cancer," or "upper lip cancer."


What should lip cancer patients pay attention to after treatment?


After treatment, doctor's appointments should never be neglected. Maintaining a regular, healthy lifestyle is important. Regular examinations are performed during doctor follow-ups, and these examinations should not be skipped.


How does lip cancer start?


Lip cancer lesions can resemble cold sores in the early stages. However, cold sores usually heal within about 10 days. Cancer lesions persist.


Is lip cancer fatal?


Lip cancer is generally not fatal. As lip cancer lesions develop in easily visible areas, in most cases, this type of cancer is diagnosed and treated early.


Can lip cancer be resolved with herbal treatment?


No herbal supplement can be said to be beneficial. Herbal products can bring more harm than good. Therefore, unless recommended by a doctor, such products and supplements should not be trusted. Supplements used according to one's own judgment can also have a negative impact on treatment or the course of the disease.

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