While not often talked about, lip cancer can affect your elderly loved one. Lip cancer usually occurs later in life – the late 60s, 70s, and 80s once significant damage has occurred to the cells of the lips. It is often first confused with a cold sore or other sore, but when it doesn’t heal, a quick trip to the doctor for ointment may result in a biopsy and a diagnosis of lip cancer. Home care providers who are aware of this condition can be mindful of watching for the symptoms of it.
The “good news” of lip cancer is that if caught early (and it usually is as it presents itself quite openly), the survival rate is high and most individuals are able to treat it and then continue a healthy life. The key is catching it early and making sure if your loved one has any type of lesion on their lips, have their home care provider bring them in for a check-up to determine if it needs further diagnosis or if it is simply a cold sore.
Symptoms that your loved one can watch for, along with her home care team, are as follows.
- A sore, such as a lesion, blister, or lump on the lip that doesn’t heal and doesn’t go away. Most cold sores last a few weeks so if the sore is still around after a month, having it checked out is a good idea.
- Lip pain or numbness (even tingling) that doesn’t disappear and remains bothersome day and night.
- A discolored patch suddenly appears on the lip area. It can be reddish, white, or a dark patch.
- A thickening of the skin of the lip.
- Bleeding from the lip.
While the main risk that leads to lip cancer developing is similar to skin cancer – too much exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light such as a tanning bed, it is considered an oral cancer and not a skin cancer. That is because not only can fair skin and ultraviolet light exposure cause lip cancer.
Other factors can also come into play that are more closely related to oral cancers. Such as:
- Heavy alcohol consumption.
- Smoking, vaping, or using any type of tobacco product, including chewing tobacco.
- Being male. Men develop oral cancers at twice the rate of women, and when men participate in high-risk behaviors like heavy drinking and smoking, it greatly increases their risk of developing lip cancer.
- Having an HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, strains of this sexually transmitted virus have been linked to genital warts and cancers of the genitals, anus, mouth and throat.
- Having a diet that does not include any fruit or vegetables.
There are steps your elderly loved one can take now to reduce his risk of developing lip cancer. With the help of his home care provider, he could:
- Increase the fresh fruits and vegetables in his diet.
- Stop using any type of artificial tanning device.
- Reduce his sun exposure, and use lip balm with SPF protection when outside.
- Reduce or eliminate all drinking of alcohol and tobacco use.
If you are considering hiring Home Care Services in Bellville OH, call the caring staff at Central Star Home Health at (419) 610-2161.
Providing services for families in Mansfield, Lexington, Bellville, Crestline, Galion, Shelby, Ashland, Ontario, Bucyrus, Mt. Vernon, Marion, Willard, and the surrounding areas.
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