Risk Factors/Signs and Symptoms

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. 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 infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)

Signs and Symptoms

These and other symptoms may be caused by lip and oral cavity cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

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, tonsils, 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 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.

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