While many people are quite familiar with most types of cancers, very few people have either heard or know anything about lip cancer. And if you are hearing about this particular disease the first time, you are not alone. Research has proven that while nearly 88% of British citizens have experienced oral cancer, at least three-quarters of them don’t know the symptoms of lip cancer.
And according to a study conducted by the Foundation of Oral Health, lip cancer causes more fatalities annually compared to testicular and cervical cancers combined. However, some good news is that when identified early enough, the condition can be treated successfully. Research has shown that with early diagnosis, the likelihood of survival is 90%~
So, what are the signs and symptoms of lip cancer?
The most common symptoms associated with lip cancer include:
- Open sores.
- The presence of a white or pale area in your skin that resembles a scar.
- Visible changes in your lips.
- Lumps or wart-like growths.
- A red patch that either gets crusty, bleeds, or itchy.
So, what are the potential causes of lip cancer?
Just like most types of cancers, lip cancer can potentially be triggered by lifestyle-related factors, including alcohol consumption, excessive exposure to sunlight, and tobacco use.
Studies have revealed that nearly a third of lip cancer cases are linked to excessive sun exposure. However, the incidence of lip cancer in the United Kingdom is relatively lower. Of course, this doesn’t entirely imply that lip cancer doesn’t exist in the country.
In fact, it is projected that lip cancer risk will only increase in the next few years thanks to factors such as climate change issues such as global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer as well as air pollution. What’s more, many individuals have decided to embrace new outdoor activities following covid-19, including walking, running, jogging, gardening, cycling, water sports, resulting in even greater exposure to ultra-violet radiation even during cloudy weather.
As already explained, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use can potentially acerbate your risk of lip cancer. In fact, it has been proven that individuals who drink between 3 and 4 alcoholic beverages daily are two times more likely to develop oral cancer compared to those who don’t. what’s more, the risk is at least two times higher when you combine daily tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
It is cancer or just a cold sore?
Most people often panic when they realize they have open sores on their lips. However, it is important to note there is nothing to worry about! And while cancerous lesions may feel or look like cold sores when they initially appear, they never heal as quickly.
Most importantly, the best thing to do when you notice a change in the appearance of your lips is to have a conversation with your healthcare provider!
So, what’s the main difference between lip cancer and other types of cancer?
Unlike most cancers, lip cancer is easily curable if diagnosed early enough. What’s more, this type of cancer is usually fairly visible.
Early lip cancer diagnosis:
As already mentioned, your chances of surviving lip cancer largely depend on its early diagnosis! But how do you ensure early diagnosis? You can only achieve this by scheduling routine dental appointments with your local dentist. Dental experts are better suited to identify the possible signs of oral cancer. Early diagnosis is imperative, bearing in mind that lip cancers are curable when detected and treated early enough.
So, how can you prevent lip cancer?
There are numerous things you can do to minimize your risk of lip cancer. And one of them is quitting smoking or reducing your alcohol consumption. According to the Foundation of Oral Health, at least 90% of all cases of mouth cancers are associated with lifestyle changes. And smoking enhances your lip cancer risk by up to ten times!
Bearing in mind that UV rays come from sunlight, you can wear a protective SPF lip balm on a daily basis, regardless of the weather.
The Bottom line:
As you may have realized, there is a lot you can do to reduce your lip cancer risk. Quitting smoking, minimizing your alcohol intake, wearing SPF lip balm daily, and scheduling routine dental appointments with your local dentist can all help lower your susceptibility to this deadly disease. And lastly, become a lip cancer ambassador and educate other people about the condition!
If you are looking for a dentist, HPS Advanced Dental Care would love to see you. Dr. Heather is gladly accepting new patients.
We are located at 4741 24 Mile Rd. Shelby Township, MI 48316, and we can be reached at (248) 652-0024. We look forward to meeting you!