Is Lip Cancer Contagious?

Development of cancer in a particular species depends on variety of factors. The cancer is developed when there is something wrong in the information at a cellular level. Further, there are certain risk factors which increase the vulnerability of a person to contract cancer as compared to others. It has lot to do with our immune system which is actually a first line of defense against the development of cancer.

One of the most common cancers affecting the mouth is the lip cancer. Lip cancer occurs when the cells grow in an uncontrollable manner and forms the lesions on the lips. Lip cancer can occur both on the upper and the lower lip, but the occurrence is more common on lower lip. The common symptoms associated with the lip cancer are lump in the cheeks, persistent mouth pain, swelling of jaw, red or white patch on the lips and swelling of the jaw.

Is Lip Cancer Contagious?

Is Lip Cancer Contagious?

Lip cancer in general is not contagious. Before going deep in to the transmission of lip cancer from the patient to a healthy person, knowledge of how cancer initiates and develops is extremely important to find a better conclusion about transmission of cancer.

There is information in the cells about the division of cells and the cell death occurs as per the programmed information. It is also known as programmed cell death or apoptosis. Whenever there is any distortion in this information of apoptosis, the cells goes on multiplying continuously without any death and thus the number increases in an uncontrolled manner resulting in cancer.

However, at the initial stage there is a defense mechanism in our body, called immune system, which finds this abnormal behavior of these cells and kills them. However, in certain cases, these cancerous cells evade the detection by the body’s immune system and become malignant. Thus, the immune system will be responsible of killing all the foreign substances when it enters the body, provided it is detected by the immune system as a foreign particle.

The humans are largely resistant from the danger of transmission of cancer, thanks to the diversity in genetic makeup. The information contained at the cellular level is different for different people and it is this diversity that makes the task of the immune system easy. As soon as the immune system identifies a cell, which may be a cancerous cell, entering into the body, immune system acts against it and kill it thus, the transmission of cancer in highly unlikely. But if the immune system is not able to detect or the cell evades itself from the detection by the immune system then there are chances that cancer may be transmitted. There are various mechanisms by which the cells may evade immune system detection such as secretion of immunosuppressive substances by cancer cells, no antigen presentation etc. Also, there are certain instances when the genetic makeup is similar such as of relatives, then the immune system treats them as their own and does not initiate actions for e.g. transmission of cancer from the mother to fetus or transmission of disease during organ transplantation.

Lip cancer is not contagious. However, if the cause of the cancer is the virus, then such transfer of virus may increase the risk of cancer to the other person but that does not mean that the person will definitely get cancer.


Like other cancers, lip cancer is not contagious as the immune system will act as a defense against the proliferation of the tumor cells. However, if the tumor cells, somehow, evade the detection of immune system then the patient will be at very high risk and may develop cancer. Further, the risk is increased when a viral infection, responsible for development of cancer, transmits from the diseased person to a healthier person. Risk is also greater in the people with compromised immune system as in cases when there is an organ transplant.

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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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