Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer

These cancers affect the lips or the mouth.


Symptoms of lip and oral cavity cancer include:

  • A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal.
  • A lump or thickening on the lips or gums or in the mouth.
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth.
  • Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the lip or mouth.
  • Change in voice.
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well.
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw.
  • Swelling of the jaw.
  • Sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat.

Lip and oral cavity cancer may not have any symptoms and is sometimes found during a regular dental exam.


In addition to all major cancer screening and diagnosis methods, we also offer these techniques when testing for lip and oral cavity cancer:

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan) – A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body
  • Bone Scan – A procedure to check if there are rapidly dividing cancer cells in the bone
  • Barium Swallow/Upper GI Series – A procedure in which the patient drinks a liquid that contains barium; this liquid coats the esophagus and stomach, allowing images to be made of the area
  • Endoscopy – A procedure used to look at areas in the throat that cannot be seen with a mirror during the physical exam
  • Exfoliative Cytology – A procedure to collect cells from the lip or oral cavity


Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are treatment options for lip and oral cavity cancer. Your care team will work with you to determine the exact course of treatment. Learn more about treatment options.