What You Need to Know about Lip Cancer

lip cancerLip cancer is a type of mouth cancer and if caught early it can be treated. With an early diagnosis, the chances of survival are nine out of ten.

Signs and symptoms of lip cancer include:

  • Open sores
  • Changes to the skin on the lips
  • A red patch that is crusty, itchy, or bleeds
  • Lumps on the lips
  • A pale or white skin area that looks like a scar


Lip Cancer Causes

Like many cancers, lip cancer can be attributed in part to lifestyle factors. The following factors increase the risk:
Sun Exposure – Approximately a third of lip cancers are associated with excessive sun exposure.
Alcohol – People who drink three to four alcoholic beverages a day are twice as likely to develop mouth cancer.
Smoking – The risk is two to three times greater when tobacco use and daily drinking are combined.


Cold Sore or Cancer?

Some people panic when they see open sores on their lips, but although cancerous lesions may look or feel like cold sores when they first appear, they don’t heal as quickly. If you notice a change in your lip’s appearance, talk to your dental professional. He or she will be able to reassure you and refer you for a second opinion if necessary.


How Lip Cancer Differs from Other Cancers?

Lip cancer is almost always curable if caught early, and it is usually quite visible.


Early Diagnosis

It is important to see your dentist for regular checkups as they are trained to detect signs of lip and mouth cancer.

Report any changes to your dentist such as sores, growths, or lip color. Early diagnosis is essential, as lip cancers are almost always curable when caught and treated early.



There are many lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of developing lip cancer.

If you drink more than is recommended or smoke, then you are increasing your risk. It is reported that up to 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors, and that smoking can increase your risk by up to ten times.

Because UV rays come from sunlight, apply a protective SPF lip balm daily.


It’s never too late to change your lifestyle for the better. Be vigilant in checking for changes on your lips. Decrease your risk factors if possible. Keep regular appointments with your dental professional. If you are looking for a dentist in Downers Grove for a routine dental check-up, contact Webster Dental at 630.663.0554.

Skip to content