Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer

Cancer of the lip and oral cavity is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the lip or mouth. The oral cavity includes the front two thirds of the tongue, the upper and lower gums (the gingiva), the lining of the inside of the cheeks and lips (the buccal mucosa), the bottom (floor) of the mouth under the tongue, the bony top of the mouth (the hard palate), and the small area behind the wisdom teeth (the retromolar trigone).

Cancers of the head and neck are most often found in people who are over the age of 45. Cancer of the lip is more common in men than in women, and is more likely to develop in people with light-colored skin who have been in the sun a lot. Cancer of the oral cavity is more common in people who chew tobacco or smoke pipes.

Patients with lip and oral cavity cancer are treated at our Head and Neck Cancer Unit. You can also review the tabs at top of this page for information on lip and oral cavity cancer symptoms and risks.


  • A sore that bleeds easily and does not heal
  • A lump or thickening
  • A red or white patch that persists
  • Difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or moving tongue or jaws

Risk factors

  • Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking
  • Use of smokeless tobacco
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol