Even though summer is starting to wind down, there are still a few more weeks left of backyard barbeques, picnics in the park, and days at the beach. The cooler temperatures shouldn’t be enough to stop most of us from practicing our well-ingrained sun safety skills though, and your bottle of sunblock shouldn’t be retired any time soon! Preventing damage to our skin by the sun is something most of us have taken seriously for years, but have you ever considered the small spots on your body that sunblock may not be covering? Many people miss protecting their lips when they lather, simply because they haven’t even considered they may need protection! While lip melanoma is very rare, it is still a place cancer can pop up if we aren’t careful. Today we’re delving into this preventable form of cancer to keep you a bit more informed!
Discovery and Treatment
Melanoma is usually an asymptomatic disease, meaning many people may not even realize there is a problem until the cancer has developed to a later stage. Eventually, a tumor will develop on the lip, but the initial appearance will be a discolored area that may appear brown, purple, red, or black. If you notice any discoloration around your mouth, it’s best to have the situation evaluated by your doctor. A biopsy is the best way to determine whether or not an area is cancerous, and your doctor will work with you to develop your specialized plan of action depending on your results. If you are diagnosed with melanoma, the cancerous area will be surgically removed and other treatments—such as radiation or chemotherapy—may be necessary. As with all cancers, finding the disease early is always going to give the patient the best chances for a full recovery!
A Policy of Prevention
Melanoma of the lip can impact anyone at any stage in their life, but prolonged exposure to the sun, smoking, alcohol use, and poor diet are all contributing factors to the development of the disease. Maintaining your overall health will help keep all of the cells in your body in their best shape and lessen your likelihood of developing most forms of cancer. Maintaining a diligent oral healthcare regimen will only serve to enhance your general wellbeing. Routine dental check-ups include oral cancer screenings by your doctor, so be sure to visit the dentist regularly to have an extra set of eyes on your lips and mouth. However, if you notice any changes in appearance between scheduled visits, it’s safest to come in and have your doctor investigate the abnormality.
Melanoma isn’t usually what we think about when we consider our oral health, but that makes it especially important to have on your radar! Awareness is crucial in diagnosing and treating all illnesses and educating yourself on how to best stay healthy will be your best defense against diseases like cancer.
If you have questions about your oral health, or if you’re suspicious of a discolored patch on your lips, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Advanced Family Dental & Orthodontics to schedule an appointment today!