What Is Cancer of the Lip & Oral Cavity?
Lip and oral cavity cancer refers to cancer that starts in the cells lining the lips and the inside of the mouth.
The oral cavity consists of the following areas:
- the front 2/3 of the tongue
- the roof of the mouth
- the floor of the mouth under the tongue
- the insides of the cheeks and lips
- the gums
- the area behind the wisdom teeth
Most tumors of the lip and oral cavity (~90%) are squamous cell carcinomas, which start in the thin, flat cells that line these areas. Lip and oral cavity cancer most often starts on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the lower lip. These tumors occasionally (but not always) start in areas of leukoplakia, which are precancerous white patches that may occur inside the mouth. Tumors on the lower lip are also common due to sun exposure and UV radiation.