Most lip and oral cavity cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips and oral cavity. These are called squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer cells may spread into deeper tissue as the cancer grows.

Various treatments are available for patients with lip and oral cavity cancer. Some are standard; others are being tested in clinical trials.

What Makes up the Oral Cavity?

The oral cavity includes the:

  • Front two-thirds of the tongue
  • Gums
  • Lining of the inside of the cheeks (buccal mucosa)
  • Floor of the mouth under the tongue
  • Roof of the mouth (hard palate)
  • Small area behind the wisdom teeth (retromolar trigone)

Risk Factors of Mouth, Lip and Oral Cancer

There are many factors that can increase your risk of developing mouth, lip, or oral cancer and can include:

  • Tobacco use of any kind
  • Execessive sun exposure to your lips
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A weak immune system

Preventing Oral, Mouth, and Lip Cancer

You can reduce your risk for this type of cancer by:

  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Wear sunscreen lip balm
  • Visit your dentist regularly

Treatment Options for Mouth, Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer

Surgery and radiation therapy are the two types of standard treatment for all stages of lip and oral cavity cancer.

  • Wide local excision in which the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue is removed
  • Neck dissection in which lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck are removed
  • Plastic surgery to restore or improve the appearance of the head and neck

Dental implants, a skin graft or other plastic surgery may be needed to repair parts of the mouth, throat or neck after removal of large tumors.

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for Treatment?

Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers are accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). This rare distinction is given to cancer programs that uphold the highest standard of care for patients. When you choose Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers for your cancer treatment, you can rest assured you will receive the best possible care delivered by a compassionate team of caregivers in a calm, healing environment.

Contact Us

For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to get connected to our support services or an affiliated provider, please call (833) 770-7771 or fill out the form below to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.


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