Tongue Cancer

This is the type of cancer that affects the cells of the tongue. It can happen in any part of the tongue and you will usually see them on the top and base of the tongue. In the same manner, you can also notice them in the mouth and even the throat region and it can extend to the respiratory and digestive tracts. The cancer is categorized according to different grades depending on the level of the tumour and how much it has spread inside the body. It is very easy to identify the symptoms of tongue cancer as they are very much obvious. People who smoke and drink excessively are under severe risk of getting this condition. It is possible to treat the condition when it is still in the initial stages and cancer is not spread to different regions in this stage. However, at later stages, you may need a combination of different treatments to get the situation under control. Surgery is often required to treat the condition and it can even become fatal in many cases.

Symptoms of Tongue Cancer

-  The symptoms of tongue cancer will be clearly visible in most cases. Whenever you notice any oral problems that do not go away for a long time, you should be very careful and approach your doctor for further examination. This can prevent many complications in the future.

-  In most cases, you can notice a red patch on the tongue that stays for many weeks. Some people also have a white patch that does not go away for a long time.

-  Even when you are having tongue ulcers for a long duration, you should treat them seriously as they can be the early symptoms of tongue cancer. If the ulcers keep coming back regularly, even then you should treat them seriously and visit your doctor for a thorough medical examination.

-  Some people also experience numbness in the mouth region and this happens frequently when you are suffering from this condition.

-  If you have a sore throat for a very long duration, you should get yourself examined as this can also be considered as a symptom of tongue cancer in many cases.

-  While it is normal for the tongue to bleed when it is injured, you should be concerned when bleeding happens without any proper reason. In many cases, this can be a clear sign of tongue cancer and identify it in the early stages will help you to treat cancer effectively in the long run.

-  In some cases, you can also notice a lump on the surface of the tongue and it usually does not go away for many weeks when you are suffering from tongue cancer.

-  You need to be extra cautious when you have a family history of oral cancer. It increases your chances of getting tongue cancer and this is also common when people smoke or chew tobacco for many years.

Causes of Tongue Cancer

-  It is well known that HPV virus can cause tongue cancer. It usually affects the base of the tongue and it can also lead to other complications when timely treatment is not provided.

-  Other than that, medical conditions like cirrhosis of the liver and syphilis can also cause tongue cancer in a few individuals. However, this is not very common and only a few people get affected due to this condition.

-  If you are having frequent oral problems, you should never neglect them as they can lead to tongue cancer in the long run. It happens with many people when other health conditions are combined and they have a family history of oral cancer.

-  Chewing tobacco for many years and excessive smoking can also cause tongue cancer in many people. You should always restrict them as they are known to cause various other diseases and they will complicate the overall health of your body.

-  Having a family history of any form of oral cancer puts you under risk of developing this condition in future. When you are in this situation, you should not panic and get yourself examined regularly so that you will be able to detect cancer in the early stages whenever they affect you in the future.

Diagnosis of Tongue Cancer

- Physical examination : In the first stage when you go for a medical checkup after noticing symptoms of tongue cancer, your doctor will conduct a thorough examination. In many cases, this can give a lot of information about the ulcers and other sores in the tongue region and doctors will advise you to undergo further tests to confirm the presence of cancer cells in the body.

- Biopsy : In this method, a small portion of the affected area is removed by way of a minor surgery. This will be later tested in the lab and the doctors will also check for HPV virus in the body in this manner. If the cells are found to be cancerous, you will be asked to undergo further scans to determine the extent of damage done by cancer to your body.

- CT Scan and MRI scan : By way of these methods, the level of damage can be determined and the stage of cancer will be known after this test. In this way, the suitable treatment plan will be chosen and you will be able to continue with further treatment based on the outcome of these tests.

Prevention of Tongue Cancer

-  It is important to take preventive measures against tongue cancer as this can be fatal in many cases. For this reason, you should never neglect your oral health and always maintain proper hygiene throughout your life.

-  Smoking and chewing tobacco are one of the leading causes of tongue cancer in many patients. You need to understand that they contain deadly chemicals that can even cause other cancers in your body. It is possible to cut down on your chances of getting tongue cancer by reducing your smoking habit.

-  You will be surprised to know that even chewing betel can lead to tongue cancer in the long run. However, occasionally using such things will not cause too much harm and you must only restrain from using them on a regular basis.

-  It is a good idea to get yourself HPV vaccination as this will help you to prevent tongue cancer in the future. Many people are not aware of this measure and they fail to get the vaccination at the right time.

-  Apart from that, you need to use protection while having sex and ensure that you do not indulge in oral sex with multiple partners. This can increase your chances of getting this condition in the long run.

-  When you maintain your oral hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly, you will be able to prevent many ulcers and other sores that can lead to cancer in the future.

-  You should also take proper care of your diet and include healthy items like fresh fruits and vegetables as they can give you sufficient nutrition. This will boost your immune system in a natural way and you will be able to fight various diseases without any hassles.

-  Also, ensure that you meet your dentist on a regular basis so that you can get yourself inspected thoroughly for any symptoms of tongue cancer. In this way, it becomes easy to identify the problem in the initial stages and you will be able to get effective treatment for this disease.

Treatment for Tongue Cancer

- Surgery : When the cancer is detected in the early stages, the small portion that is affected is removed by way of surgery. This operation will ensure that the affected part is completely removed and further checkups are done on a regular basis to make sure that cancer does not return to the same place. This can give long-term relief and many patients go ahead and lead a normal life after this surgery.

- Glossectomy : This surgery is performed when cancer has spread to other regions and the affected parts are removed to ensure that the disease does not spread further to other organs. This can be difficult to handle and it usually comes with a lot of side effects. In most cases, a major portion of the tongue or the inner region of the mouth may be removed when it is affected. This can affect the ability to speak normally and patients may even have difficulty in eating food due to this surgery.

- Reconstruction surgery : In order to rectify the side effects of Glossectomy, a reconstruction surgery may be needed to bring back the speaking ability of the patient. In some cases, when a major portion of the mouth or tongue is removed, it can affect the overall appearance of the face and reconstruction surgery will try to normalize the situation.

- Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy : When cancer is in the advanced stages, chemotherapy along with radiation therapy may be used depending on the requirement of the situation. This will reduce the fast growth of cancer cells in the body and prevent further damage to other organs.

Complications of Tongue Cancer

-  The major complication of tongue cancer comes with the risk of the disease spreading to other regions. In most cases, when treatment is not provided in the initial stages, it can easily spread to the throat and other regions leading to various complications.

-  When the disease starts spreading to other regions, providing treatment becomes very difficult and it often results in fatal consequences. For this reason, you should always be careful about the symptoms of tongue cancer and get treatment at the right time.

-  Apart from that, you will also notice that complications can arise out of treatment given to cure tongue cancer. In many cases, patients need reconstruction surgery when part of the tongue is removed during surgery. In other cases, radiation therapy can also cause complications with the ability to swallow food.

-  In the same manner, the ability of patients to speak may also get impaired due to the radiation therapy or complications arising out of tongue cancer. In this situation, further treatment may be required even after the patient is cured of cancer to restore the speaking ability.

-  Dealing with cancer can be a huge pressure situation and many patients develop behavioural problems during this stage. In this situation, getting proper counselling from a doctor will be required and you may even be prescribed anti-depressants to deal with the situation.

-  In many cases, patients may completely lose their ability to speak normally after the surgery is performed to treat tongue cancer.

Myths about Tongue Cancer

Myth #1: Only smokers can get tongue cancer :

This is completely false and you need to understand that you can get tongue cancer even if you are not a regular smoker. People who never smoke also develop this condition due to various other reasons. However, smoking excessively increases your chances of getting cancer at a later stage.

Myth #2: Tongue cancer affects only the tongue :

Even though the name implies the same, it can also affect the throat and even spread to other regions of the body. This usually happens when treatment is not given in the initial stage and cancer can easily spread to other parts of the body and even lead to death in extreme conditions.

Myth #3: Tongue cancer is not fatal :

Remember that when timely treatment is not provided or when the disease is identified at the last stage, it can become fatal. It results in death for most patients when cancer starts spreading to other parts of the body. Some people even die due to this condition after a few years after surgery.

Myth #4: Stress can cause tongue cancer :

There is no reason to believe that stress can cause tongue cancer. While it is true that it can lead to acidity and other complications in the body, there is no reason to believe that it can lead to something serious like tongue cancer.


When you are very cautious about your oral hygiene, you will be able to prevent many types of oral cancers. Apart from that, leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding smoking and tobacco consumption will go a long way in avoiding tongue cancer. When you are diagnosed with tongue cancer, you should take timely treatment and carefully follow the guidelines provided by your doctor. Many people survive this condition when they get treated in the early stages.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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