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Tongue Cancer

Tongue Cancer

It is the second common tumor of the oral cavity. Mostly often arises along the lateral borders of the tongue. The risk factors are tobacco, alcohol, immunsupression, and poor oral hygiene.

The depth of the tumor invasion is correlated with regional metastasis, recurrence, and mortality. The incidence of the tongue cancer in young patients has increased.


Early detection of the tumor is important. Through oral cavity examination by dentists, primary care physicians, otolaryngologists especially in patients with risk factors is critical,


The symptoms of the tongue cancer might include;

  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • A red or white patch (like an ulser and grayish-pink to red), on the tongue that won’t go away
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Tongue fixation, decreased tongue sensation
  • Alteration in speech and swallowing
  • Cervical lymphadenopathy
  • Pain in the ear (rare)


The biopsy is mandatory for diagnosis and most lesions are amenable to biopsy in the office.


Surgical removal of the tumor might be the only treatment needed for small tongue cancers. If the tumor is large, it may have spread to lymph nodes in the neck. When this occurs the surgeon may recommend removal of the affected lymph nodes in the neck. Surgery of the large tumors can affects speech and swallowing. Radiation therapy (RT) also destroys cancer cells and also eliminate tumors. RT is usually used for adjuvant treatment (after surgery). Chemotherapy  is not the main treatment option but also used for adjuvant treatment for different reasons; chemoradiation, decrease the cancer returning, to slow the tumor growth and control symptoms when the cancer cannot be cured (palliative treatment).