What is tongue cancer?

Tongue cancer is a form of oral cancer. The tongue and lips are common sites for oral cancers. Most tongue cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that start in the surface layer of the tongue. Symptoms such as an ulcer or sore that does not heal, pain, and problems with swallowing may occur.

Alcohol and tobacco use are the strongest risk factors for oral cancers, including those of the tongue. Oral cancers are more common in men than in women and typically occur after the age of 40. Each year, about 37,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with some type of oral cancer (Source: ACS).

Early tongue cancers are often treatable with either surgery or radiation therapy, depending upon their location and size. After surgery to remove the cancer, reconstructive surgery can help restore structures that have been removed and rehabilitation can help you relearn how to eat, swallow and talk, if needed.

Emergencies related to tongue cancer are rare. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as uncontrolled or heavy bleeding or difficulty breathing. Seek prompt medical care if you develop sores or lumps in your mouth that do not resolve with time, or if you start having problems eating, swallowing or speaking.


What are the symptoms of tongue cancer?

Tongue cancer symptoms include sores or lumps on the tongue, altered taste, and difficulty swallowing or talking. Cancer that has spread can cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck and other symptoms.

Common symptoms of tongue cancer

Common symptoms of tongue cancer include:


What causes tongue cancer?

What causes cells to undergo changes that lead to cancer is not known; however, several risk factors are known, including tobacco use, which is the strongest single risk factor for tongue cancer, and alcohol use. Infection by human papilloma virus plays an important role in the development of genetic changes that initiate the development of cancer.

What are the risk factors f... Read more about tongue cancercauses


How is tongue cancer treated?

Treatment of tongue cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life, including regular dental care. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to provide early screening tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks for developing tongue cancer.

The goal of to... Read more about tongue cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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