Updated: May 2003
Most of these cancers are squamous cell carcinomas and the primary treatment is by radiotherapy or surgery with primary closure. Resection with reconstruction is reserved for recurrent carcinomas or advanced primary lesions involving bone and/or with regional metastases.
Radiotherapy for early stage lip cancers usually consists of a 2 week course of treatment with a relatively superficial beam with appropriate shielding of the adjacent tissues.
Lymph Node Metastases
Only 10% of patients with carcinoma of the lip will ever develop lymphatic metastases, but it is from this group that deaths due to lip cancer occur. The management of the clinically negative neck in patients with lip cancer is expectant, with careful routine examination of the regional nodes. Please
see section 4: Diagnosis.
Lymph node metastases usually appear in the first two years and may enlarge rapidly. They are usually treated with a neck dissection. Patients presenting with lymph node metastases require a multidisciplinary assessment. Inoperable lymph node metastases may be treated where possible with primary radiotherapy.