Lip Cancer Treatment


Lip cancer is classified as oral cancer, or a cancer of the oral cavity, which also encompasses cancer of the throat, tongue, tonsils and salivary glands. It is estimated that there will be 29,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed this year, with approximately 10 to 15 percent of the cases being cancers found specifically on the lip. Risk factors for developing lip cancer include heavy tobacco and alcohol use, exposure to the sun and HPV infections.

Treatment options for lip cancer can include one or more of the following:

Surgery to remove the tumor is a common treatment for lip cancer. Depending on the size of the cancer on the lip, part of the tongue, jaw and palate also may be removed. This can affect the way many talk, swallow or chew, so reconstructive surgery is usually takes place to help rebuild these sections of the mouth that were removed.
Radiation Therapy
An option for very small tumors on the lip or people who cannot tolerate surgery, radiation therapy can be given internally or externally. It also is used prior to surgery to reduce the size of the tumor as well as after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the area.
Typically given at the same time as radiation therapy to treat lip cancer, the use of chemotherapy can result in infection and pain in the mouth and gum area. Commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs include 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin, carboplatin, cisplatin, docetaxel, ifosfamide, methotrexate and paclitaxel.
Targeted Therapy
A targeted anticancer therapy called Erbitux also can be used to treat lip cancer. It is usually is given in combination with radiation or chemotherapy. Designed to bind to a substance called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) that is found on the surface of lip cancer cells, targeted therapies can cause less harsh side effects as compared to chemotherapy.


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