The lips are an often overlooked but not uncommon site for nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), including the two most common skin cancers, basal and squamous cell carcinoma (BCC and SCC). Most frequently occurring in fair-skinned males over the age of 50, cancer of the lip comprises approximately 0.6 percent of all cancers in the U.S. Studies have shown that males are 3 times more likely to develop lip cancers, likely due to occupation-related sun exposure combined with greater tobacco and alcohol use.
The lower lip is approximately 4 times more likely to be affected, owing to its greater exposure to sunlight. A recent 25-year retrospective study of 2,152 patients with lip cancer revealed that 81 percent occurred on the lower lip. Large epidemiological studies have shown that up to 95 percent of NMSCs on the lower lip are SCCs.