Actinic cheilitis is the main precancerous lesion of the lip. Squamous cell carcinoma of the lip is reported together with oral carcinomas in the Brazilian official statistics. Overall, they account for 40% of the head and neck carcinomas. In general, physicians and dentists know little about what causes oral tumor development and progression. Tumor suppressor genes and cell proliferation regulatory proteins play a role in the progression of actinic cheilitis to squamous cell carcinoma and in its biological behavior. Knowledge on prognostic and diagnostic markers has a positive impact on the follow-up of these patients.