​Lip Cancer

Lip cancer refers to abnormal cells that develop on the skin of the lips. Although, it can occur on either of the lips, it usually develops on the lower lip.

As the cancer develops, you may be able to feel a perpetual soreness in the mouth that does not heal with medication or go away with time. You may also feel that this is accompanied with persistent pain. The pain extends to the lips and you may witness bleeding from the lips. As the cancer progresses you may also feel numbness in the mouth. You might notice that your lips, gums or the inside of your cheeks may become thickened, and your jaw gets swollen. While looking in the mirror, you may notice a patch on the lip having either a red or white coloration. You may experience the onset of a sore throat, or the lasting feeling of something being caught in your throat.
If you notice an unusual patch on your lips, particularly having a reddish or white colour, get it examined by specialists working with the Oncology Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so makes sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To diagnose the probability of lip cancer, your doctor will begin by asking about your symptoms and the incidence of cancer in your family. You will then undergo a physical examination where the doctor will examine your affected area, particularly the lips, for swelling and soreness and possible causes of the inflammation. He will also examine the inside of your mouth using a mirror and lights, and feel for any swollen lymph nodes around the neck.

If ample evidence points towards cancer, you will be asked to have a biopsy for confirmation. Additionally, you may also be asked to undertake an exfoliative cytology, wherein a cotton swab will be used to scrape cells from your lips, and then examined under the microscope to detect for any abnormalities.​

Lip cancer, if detected in the earlier stages, is almost always curable. You will be presented with the most commonly employed treatment for lip cancer: Mohs microscopic surgery. Mohs surgery involves removal of the affected tissues in layers, while sparing as much of the healthy tissue as possible. Each layer removed is periodically studied under the microscope to detect to cancerous growth, and the process stopped when no more evidence of cancer is found.

In case the cancer cells have spread, you can opt for radiation therapy. This treatment employs the use of high energy rays or particles that kill the cancer cells. You can also choose chemotherapy as a treatment for the cancer. This treatment employs the introduction of anti-cancer drugs either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy is effective especially if the body has undergone metastasis.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.