Cancer that starts in the cells of the tongue is known as tongue cancer. That on the front of the tongue is called “oral tongue cancer,” and the one that occurs on the base of the tongue is called “oropharyngeal cancer.” The most common type of tongue cancer is squamous cell carcinoma and is classified using stages and grades. The stage is an indication of how far cancer has spread. It has three classifications:
It refers to the size of the tumor. T1 is a small tumor, while T4 refers to a large tumor.
It shows whether the cancer has spread to the neck lymph nodes. N3 means it has spread, whereas N0 means cancer has not spread.
It indicates whether there are additional growths in other body parts.
The grade determines how destructive the tongue cancer is and how likely it is to spread. Based on the grades, tongue cancer can be slow growing, moderate, and very aggressive.
Symptoms of tongue cancer
Due to their similarity to other types of oral cancer, tongue cancer symptoms can be deceptive. They can be mistaken for a persistent sore in the mouth or a cold that just does not seem to go away. Following are the symptoms of tongue cancer:
- Persistent pain in the tongue or jaw
- Difficulty in moving the tongue or jaw
- A lump inside the mouth
- White or red patches on the tongue, gums, tonsil, or on the mouth lining
- A sore throat or a constant feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- Pain while swallowing or chewing
All these tongue cancer symptoms can be due to a variety of other health conditions as well. Therefore, accurate diagnosis is required for determining whether the condition is tongue cancer.
Treatment of tongue cancer
Common treatments for tongue cancer can be listed as follows:
Depending on the tongue cancer symptoms, a surgery is performed to remove the tumor from the tongue.
- Radiation therapy
Through radiation, the cancerous tissues are damaged while saving the healthy ones.
- Targeted drug therapy
Analyzing the requirement for treating tongue cancer symptoms, doctors use targeted drug therapy. It is also combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy sometimes.
This treatment involves using anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It serves as an ideal treatment when the tongue cancer spreads to nearby lymph nodes.