How Do You Detect Lip Cancer?

How Do You Detect Lip Cancer?

Detection of lip cancer can be done by any doctor or by patient/relative. Confirmation of the lip cancer needs some test and examinations. Most of the time lip cancer can be detected at primary level by the local examination of abnormal growth or by simple symptoms of the burning sensation or pain. Detection of the lip cancer than also needs further confirmation of the cancer. How Do You Detect Lip Cancer? Some Important Details About Detection Of Cancer Are As Follows:

History of Lip Cancer:

Doctor may ask detail history of symptoms, which may include duration of lesion, severity of pain or burning etc.

Local Examination:

Doctor may examine for the characteristic of growth or ulcer and may check sensation over the growth. In severe cases tongue and jaw moments are also be checked for detecting lip cancer.

Lymph Node Examination:

To confirm or check spread of the lip cancer doctor may palpate different sets of lymph nodes situated around head and neck.

Examination by Scopes:

Detection of lip cancer in tongue and other part of larynx can be done by laryngoscopy or pharyngoscopy, which is useful to check nasopharynx and larynx. In severe cases esophagoscopy, panendoscopy and even bronchoscopy can be done to detect the area involve of esophagus, trachea or bronchi. These types of scopes are also useful to take tissue from the areas for further testing.

Cytology for Lip Cancer:

This is one type of microscopic examination for lip cancer, which is done on sample with staining to check the abnormal growth. It can be further evaluated and confirmed by biopsy. This test is noninvasive and provides early detection.


Biopsy is mandatory before starting lip cancer cancer treatments. The sample taken by above type of scopes can be evaluated microscopically to detect abnormal tissue growth. Incisional biopsy is also done during excision of the tumor which done under local or general anesthesia.


Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) can also be done from lump or tumor to detect abnormality. It also confirms the spread of cancer from lip or oral to lymph nodes of neck.

HPV Testing to Detect Lip Cancer:

Human Papilloma Virus:

HPV is the one of the common cause of lip and oral cancer, so this test is also done to detect the cause of lip cancer.

DNA Testing for Lip Cancer:

DNA testing also known as genetics of cancer, it is recent technique to detect the changes of the cell and its chance of converting benign to metastasis. In which comparison of the sequence of DNA in cancer cell with the normal cell is done.

Imaging Tests:

X-rays, CT scan and MRI also been done to detect the severity and spread of the cancer and to confirm that treatment is working or not and even recurrence.

Barium Swallow:

Lip cancer and oral cancer most commonly spread to the digestive systems organs like esophagus. To detect that barium swallow test is used. If surgery is planned than following test is done to detect if person is fit for lip cancer surgery or not:

  • ECG
  • ECHO
  • PET scan
  • Blood test

If radiotherapy or chemotherapy is planned then also different blood test is done to check if lip cancer patient can tolerate it or not.


Detection of the lip cancer is depending on the spread and severity of the lip cancer. It also depends on the stage at which primary consultation is done. It can be minor blood test to invasive techniques depending upon the same.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 18, 2021

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