Each year in the United States, more than 21,000 men and 9,000 women are diagnosed with lip and oral cancer. Lip and oral cancer is a type of cancer that forms in tissues of the lips, oral cavity (the mouth) or the oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth). Most patients diagnosed with this disease are over 60 years old.
The oral cavity includes the following:
- Hard palate (the roof of the mouth)
- Gingiva (gums)
- Retromolar trigone (the small area behind the wisdom teeth)
- The front two-thirds of the tongue
- Buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks)
- Floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue
- Soft palate and uvula (the muscle back portion of the roof of the mouth)
- Salivary glands (glands that make saliva)
Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancers
Tobacco and alcohol use can affect the risk of developing lip and oral cavity cancer. However, having a risk does not mean that you will develop cancer; like not having risk factors does not mean that you won't develop a head or neck cancer. Always consult your doctor if you think you may be at risk for cancer.
Risk factors for lip and oral cavity cancer include the following:
- Using tobacco products.
- Heavy alcohol use.
- Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time.
- Being male.
- Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Visit the National Cancer Institute where this information and more can be found about Lip and Oral Cancer or ask your cancer care team questions about your individual situation.