Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Fulham]
Cancer of the lip appears in many instances at a
point which is subjected to persistent irritation, for
example, from the rough or hot stem of a pipe, from
hot cigar smoke or from a decayed or broken tooth.
Non-smokers may, of course, contract the disease and
fortunately only a comparatively small number of
smokers are affected with these growths.
Cancer is not the only disease which may cause
a sore on the lip, but if one should develop which
does not quickly disappear it is wise to seek medical
advice. As preventive measures one should avoid
irritation from a rough or hot pipe or cigar and decayed
or broken teeth should be attended to by a dentist.
Early treatment is of supreme importance as the
possibility of cure is much greater in the initial stages
of the disease. The cases are treated by operation or
by radiological treatment (radium or X-rays) or by a
combination of these measures.
Cancer of the Tongue. The most common situation
for the growth to appear is at the free margin of the
tongue and the next position as regards frequency is
on the upper surface, but it may start anywhere on
the tongue. The growth is often situated in contact
with a broken or decayed tooth and ill fitting dental
plates have also been blamed. It usually commences as
a crack or raw spot and the edges of the ulcer then
become hard. It is not in itself painful at first, but
generally gives rise to much pain by contact with hot
or acid fluids and condiments.
Later on it causes pain, often shooting upwards
towards the ear, and the glands below the jaw and in
the neck become enlarged. Cancer of this organ
extends much more rapidly than in the lip and medical
advice should be obtained at the earliest possible
Cancer of the tongue may follow syphilis of that
organ which has not been thoroughly treated; the