What is tongue cancer?

Content is medically reviewed by:

Dr. Udaya Kumar Maiya (MBBS, MD, DNB(RT), DCCF (Paris), Medical Director, Portea.

According to the medical tongue cancer definition, tongue cancer is described as red and white plaques or tumours appearing on your tongue. There is two tongue cancer types based on the location of their appearance on your tongue. Oral tongue cancer happens when the lesions or tumours appear on the roof or in front of your tongue while any tumours appearing at the base area are clinically referred to as oropharyngeal cancer. Common tongue cancer symptoms in patients are sores that don’t heal, pain experienced during swallowing, unexplained bleeding from the tongue, persistent tongue ulcers and numbness in the mouth.

Smoking, alcoholism, poor nutrition, and chewing too much betel are common tongue cancer causes in men and women. Tongue cancer treatment options recommended by doctors are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

 

Types of tongue cancer

Tongue cancer types are categorised based on their type of appearance and location. There are mainly two types of tongue cancer:

-Oral Tongue Cancer -When you notice soreness or red/white patches on the front of your tongue, or the part that pokes out when you show it to a person, it is known as oral tongue cancer. This is considered among the early tongue cancer stages and easily diagnosable and removed through surgery.

-Oropharyngeal cancer – When tumours or lesions appear at the base of your tongue, the part that is near to your throat, it is known as oropharyngeal cancer. Advanced tongue cancer stages are associated with this.

 

What are some of the tongue cancer causes?

Although the condition is more prevalent in people over the age of 55, specific tongue cancer causes are unknown in the medical community. However, there are certain factors which increase your risk of contracting it:

-Chain smoking – Smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day contributes to tongue cancer symptoms in people.

-Alcoholism – If you’re a heavy drinker, you are likely to be susceptible to tongue cancer.

-HPV – The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that is known to cause tongue cancer

-Betel chewing – Popular in southern parts of Asia, this has been well-linked to tongue cancer symptoms.

-Family history – If tongue cancer runs in your family, you may be prone to it.

-Poor Nutrition – Low intake of fruits and vegetables increase the chances of various oral cancers

-Poor Oral Hygiene – Poor dental or oral routines and persistent irritation in the teeth may cause tongue cancer.

 

Diagnosis of tongue cancer

Your doctor will take a tongue cancer diagnostic test where he conducts a physical exam by inspecting the roof and base of your mouth. If your doctor can’t find any reasons for you exhibiting tongue cancer symptoms, you may be advised to see an ENT (ear-nose-throat) specialist. Additionally, your doctor may recommend the following tongue cancer screening tests for confirming a tongue cancer diagnosis:

 

-X-ray Scans – X-ray scans highlight tumorous areas on your tongue by showing the spread of cancer cells in the jaw, chest, or lungs.

-CT Scan – CT Scans pinpoint tumours in the mouth, throat, neck, lungs or any other area in your body.

-PET Scan – A PET Scan is recommended if the doctor suspects that your tongue cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other internal organs.

-MRI Scan – Detailed images of the head and neck are rendered, which are used for determining tongue cancer stages in patients.

-Endoscopy – Special tongue cancer diagnosis instruments are inserted into your mouth and nasal passages to examine the degree and extent of the tumours.

Tongue Cancer Treatment

Tongue cancer stages in patients will determine the type of treatment their doctors recommend. If your tongue cancer is in its very advanced stages, you may be recommended surgery or a  combination of the different treatments based on your age, general health, and medical condition. Here are the following tongue cancer treatment methods for patients:

 

-Surgery:

Either cancerous cells are removed from the tongue surgically by extracting certain sections or the entire tongue is removed if the tongue cancer stages are serious. Your doctor will make a call on this based on your tongue cancer screening tests.

-Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy is used for tongue cancer treatment where patients are given high-powered energy beams on their affected tongue areas. Radiation therapy is used to shrink tumours before surgery in most cases.

-Chemotherapy:

Tongue cancer treatment in chemotherapy involves using specific drugs and medications to attack vulnerabilities in timorous cells. The medications used in chemotherapy may be administered intravenous, orally, or given to patients in either capsule or pill forms.

-Targeted Drug Therapy:

Targeted Drug Therapy uses specific medications to eradicate tumorous cells in your tongue. These medications attack vulnerabilities in tumours and address specific characteristics for effective treatment.

When do you need us?

Palliative care is a part of tongue cancer treatment at home in patients. It involves being supportive to patients and nurses for tongue cancer are assigned to make sure patients take their necessary medications. Palliative care speeds up recovery in many cases and ensures that patients enjoy fully functional lives after surgery. It has been proven to be beneficial throughout all phases of tongue cancer treatment.

 

How we can help

Our team of doctors and nurses for tongue cancer will visit your home and assess your condition. We provide nutrition support and make sure you take your medications on time. Our tongue cancer care at home starts with a diagnostic test from the comfort of your home and reviews your condition. Based on the results of the diagnosis, we create a suitable tongue cancer home treatment plan tailored to your needs. Personal care, companionship, and psychological support are included with our in-home nursing services. If your condition is serious, our doctors may recommend you to undergo surgery or suggest alternative medical therapies.

 

Summary

Tongue cancer treatment at home is recommended for patients who require an extensive diagnosis and for medical reasons cannot travel to the hospital. Patients may be expected to adjust to new lifestyle implications post-surgery.

 

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References:

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/tongue-cancer-facts#1

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tongue-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20378428

www.rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/tongue-cancer/

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