What is lip cancer? Cancer of the lip is a type of oral cancer. Sun, alcohol, tobacco, the human papilloma virus (HPV), male gender, and age over 40 are common risk factors for developing lip and other types of oral cancer. Of the approximately 26,000 new oral cancers that are estimated to occur yearly in the United States, 10% to 15% are lip cancer (Source: ACS). Early lip cancers may have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common finding is a sore on the lip that will not heal. Most lip cancers develop on the lower lip and are squamous cell cancers, which are cancers caused by changes and abnormal growth of the flat, disc-like cells that line and cover the lip. When diagnosed early, lip cancer has an excellent prognosis and can potentially be cured by either surgery or radiation therapy. Later stages may also be treated with surgery or radiation or a combination of the two. Chemotherapy and targeted therapies may also be used, particularly for more advanced disease. Emergency treatment is rarely needed for lip cancer, unless the cancer has spread and is interfering with the function of a vital organ. During chemotherapy, however, the white blood cell count can fall. Since white blood cells fight off infection, this can increase your risk of getting an infection and having it become serious. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), excessive bleeding, change in level of consciousness, rapid heartbeat, or lethargy. Seek prompt medical care if you are having difficulty eating or drinking; have a sore that does not heal, produces pus, or bleeds easily; have a lump on your lip, in your mouth, or on your neck; have a thickened or discolored area on the lip; or if you have any other symptoms that concern you.