Skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer in the United States. While it is easy to understand how the face, back of the hands and neck are susceptible to skin cancer, many people fail to consider their lips. The lips, just like the rest of your skin, are just as susceptible to skin cancer. While lip cancer is less common, it is often overlooked and still accounts for about 0.6 percent of all skin cancer cases according to reports from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Who Is at Risk? Lip cancer can include basal and squamous cell carcinoma (BCC and SCC). Males over 50 years old who are fair skinned are most likely to have lip cancer. If you want to avoid lip cancer, it’s important to understand the primary risk factors. The primary cause of lip cancer, accounting or nearly 90% of occurrences, is cumulative exposure to UV light. This begs the question: How often to you put sunscreen or an SPF lipstick on your lips before you go outside? Lip cancer has also been linked to smoking, alcohol consumption, and immunosuppression. Due to its greater exposure to sunlight, the bottom lip is often more affected than the upper lip. The good news is that lip cancer is highly detectable and highly treatable! Treatment for Lip Cancer When it comes to skin cancer, early detection plays a critical role. Fortunately, the lips are an easy place to spot cancerous lesions. Mohs surgery is the most successful treatment for lip cancer, with a high cure rate and the most effective technique for conserving healthy lip tissue while eliminating cancerous cells. How to Detect Lip Cancer If you notice any change in your lip texture or color, it is best to see a certified dermatologist for an evaluation. Lip cancer can present itself like a wart or cold sore, except it won’t heal the same way. If your lip lesion is taking longer than two weeks to disappear, it is best to take a proactive approach and see a dermatologist. Some lip cancers will begin as a pale spot or look more like a scar. Therefore, you should make it a habit to examine your lips on a daily basis so that you can detect changes at the earliest possible stage.
Concerned about the health of your lips? Trust Olansky Dermatology Associates, we can diagnose and address all types of skin cancers, including those found on the lips. Make an appointment at our Atlanta office today – in the meantime, make sure you are protecting your lips from the summer sun!