Lump In Mouth or Lip? Maybe a Mucocele

January 29 2005 – 12:07pm

Right before New Year’s, I noticed a lump inside of my lower lip. Now, being the hypochondriac that I am, I was naturally petrified that I had Oral Cancer. Why? I’m certainly not at risk. I don’t have a family history of Cancer. I’m 25, not a smoker or chewer, and am otherwise healthy. Because any Google search for “lump in mouth” or lump in lip will likely have even a reasonable person convinced that this is a sure sign of Oral Cancer.

Fortunately, I don’t have Cancer – well, at least not in that growth that was in my mouth. It turns out I had a Mucocele, which is a kind of mucous retention cyst, and is apparently quite common, or at least it is to an Oral Surgeon. It’s funny though, that if you search for the symptom: “lump in mouth” along with my diagnosis: mucocele, on Google, you will get zero pages. Until now. Even the page on Mucoceles I keep linking to describes it as a “transparent structure“. Who is going to go to the doctor and say “I have a structure in my mouth?” So for all of you people out there who are frantic about that lump in your mouth. Don’t get health advice from me. Go see your doctor. But it may just be a Mucocele.

So here is almost exactly what they did about my Mucocele (warning: gross pictures). It took about ten minutes, and they just used Novocain, followed by Ibuprofen for pain relief. I had to eat alot of soup for a couple of days, and it hurt to smile for a bit afterwards. This was easily remedied by pinching my cheeks together with my hand when I smiled, which looked ridiculous and made other people laugh, which made me laugh, so I had to pinch harder and I looked more ridiculous – it was quite the vicious circle. I was ready to eat nachos with gusto after about five days.

They did a biopsy, just as a precaution, and it was quite amusing:

Multiple sections show stratified squamous epithelium covering fibro-collagenous tissue containing lakes of mucinous material. Viable and necrotic polymorphs and lymphocytes are entrapped in the mucin. Regional mucous gland lobules exhibiting ductal ectasia, acinar degeneration, stromal fibrosis and an infiltrate of lymphocytes and plasma cells are also seen. Regional striated muscle bundles are also noted in the stroma.

Then there was the important part:


So I live a few more days.

Oh, and here is my good semantic deed for the day:
Lump in Mouth
Lump in Lip

[UPDATE: 03/29/2006 10:37 PM] There is obviously a great deal of discussion going on about this topic, so I have disabled comments on this post, and dedicated a forum to mucoceles. You can find it at Please share your experiences!

[UPDATE: 09/15/2008] I’ve summarized what I’ve learned since writing this post in a special mucocele section of the site.

This post is filed under Best-of, Health.