Specialists at Mayo Clinic work together as a team to develop the best treatment plan for you. Your treatment will maximize the physical appearance and function of your lips. Depending on the extent of your cancer, treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery or a combination of therapies.
- Surgery. Small cancers can often be treated under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. If you have a larger tumor, you may benefit from a specialized procedure that uses your lip and cheek tissue for reconstruction. Sometimes, doctors will remove nearby lymph nodes for laboratory examination.
- Radiation therapy. This involves the use of high-energy X-rays, electron beams or radioactive isotopes to kill cancer cells. One such therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), uses digital diagnostic imaging, computers and specialized software to send hundreds of small radiation beams to follow the shape of the tumor, helping to protect nearby normal tissue. Doctors sometimes use IMRT for advanced lip cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy. This involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Occasionally, if your lip cancer is advanced, doctors may give you chemotherapy by mouth or through your veins. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used together.
- Reconstructive surgery. Depending upon the cancer's size and location and whether it has spread, you may need reconstructive surgery for your lips.
Read more about treatment for mouth cancer.