What Is The Surgery For Lip Cancer?

To human, lips performs a variety of function, from the way they provide aesthetic look to the person to the functions performed such as eating and drinking, emotional responses by the way of expressions and also manages the way a person speaks. These features are under threat when a person contracts lip cancer. Although, due to its location at a visibly clear site and early diagnosis, but the treatment depends upon how deeply it has impacted the tissues and the risk of metastasis it carries. Various treatments such as Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery are used for the treatment of lip cancer wherein the surgery is used in many cases ranging from early stage to advanced stages of lip cancer.

What Is The Surgery For Lip Cancer?

What Is The Surgery For Lip Cancer?

What are the surgical interventions in lip cancer? Well, the confirmatory diagnosis of the lip cancer is done through the following two methods:

  1. Biopsy for Lip Cancer: In this diagnosis, a part of the lip is sent to the testing lab to test for the cancer cells.
  2. Exfoliative Process: In this method the cells, which are taken from the lips through cotton swab or other method, is sent to the testing lab for testing.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the medical practitioner decides the further course of treatment depending upon the stage of cancer and other parameters.

Following are the types of surgery which can be undertaken for the treatment of lip cancer:

  1. Wide Local Excision: In this type of surgery for lip cancer, the surgeon removes the part of a healthy tissue along with the cancerous portion. This surgery is done to confirm the stage of cancer and the type of lesion and if any further treatment is required. This type of excision is generally done when the area of malignant tissue is small otherwise the restructuring of the skin will be difficult. There are various methods for excision such as V-shaped excision or W-shaped excision, but the method frequently used in a barrel shaped excision because it may lead to proper restructuring of the lips.
  2. Mohs Micrographic Surgery: This surgery for lip cancer is highly effective in treating the lip cancer. It involves a comprehensive surgical mapping and a complete evaluation of tumor’s margin. This surgery involves the removal of the tumor in thin layers. The surgery involves various stages an all the stages are performed during a single visit of the patient. Initially, the medical professional removes the layer of lip and checks it under the microscope for cancer cells. If there is any cancer cell found, he knows the accurate location of the cell and remove another layer from that location. This helps the physician to keep intact the healthy tissues. The stages continue till the area becomes free from the cancer cells. This is highly effective due to the advantages it possesses such as single visit lip cancer surgery, high cure rate and keeping intact the healthy tissues as much as possible.

Reconstruction After Surgery

Apart from the providing aesthetic look to the person, lips are also engaged in functions like eating, speaking and expressing emotions. Thus, after the lip cancer surgery and removal of cancerous tissue from the lips, the next task is to restructure the lips as normal as possible. Although the primary task of the surgeon is to remove the cancerous tissue, but the surgeon should also consider the maintenance of lips in terms of aesthetics and also to revive the sensory functions and motor functions.


Although there are various methods to treat lip cancer with good cure rate, the generally used method is the surgery as it has relatively lesser side effects when compared to chemotherapy. The type of surgical method used, depends upon the stage of the cancer and the area it had acquired on the lips. The surgeons, while using the method, should also consider that the method used should be such that the basic functions of the lips are regained, and the cosmetic appearance of the person is not hampered.

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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 19, 2021

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