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How Do You Know If You Have Cancer of the Tongue?

Tongue cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the cells of the tongue. There can be a tumor or lesion on the tongue due to this kind of cancer. It comes under the category of head & neck cancer. There are two types of tongue cancer:

  • Oropharyngeal Cancer – This type of tongue cancer starts at the outer side of the tongue.
  • Oral Tongue Cancer – This type of tongue cancer starts at the base of the tongue.

Continue reading this article to know if you have cancer of the tongue.

Symptoms of Tongue Cancer

If you want to know whether you have tongue cancer, you should lookout for a few symptoms as indications. If you happen to find any of these symptoms, get yourself diagnosed by a specialist from any Indian cancer research center or hospital. This can help you understand the actual cause of your symptoms.

Symptoms of Oral Tongue Cancer

  • A feeling of lump on the tongue
  • When the lump on the tongue is touched or bitten, it will easily bleed.
  • The lump will feel like an ulcer and appear red to pinkish-grey in color.
  • The lump is situated on the tongue’s side and touching the teeth.

Symptoms of Oropharyngeal Cancer

  • Ear pain
  • Change in voice
  • The feeling of a lump in the throat or neck
  • The problem in swallowing food or water
  • Swelling in throat for more than 3 weeks
  • Pain in throat

Additional Symptoms of Tongue Cancer

  • Jaw pain
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Tongue stiffness
  • Problem with chewing food
  • Ulcer in tongue for a long time
  • Hoarse voice
  • Pain in neck

Many people may not notice any symptom or sign of tongue cancer in the early stages. People who drink or smoke are more prone to getting this type of cancer. 

They should be more careful about the early signs and go for regular check-ups of their mouth & tongue. A dentist or doctor can examine their mouth and tongue to check for any problem.

Stages of Tongue Cancer

Tongue cancer is classified into different stages depending on the size and reach of cancer. Doctors will check if the cancer is metastasized if it has spread from other parts of the body, or how much is spread for cancer classification.

Numbers and letters are used to classify cancer. For example, the letter N is used to refer to neck lymph nodes, and the letter T is used to refer to a tumor. Letter N & T has a grading system from 0 to 3 and 1 to 4 respectively. The grade T4 indicates the largest grade of a tumor, while grade T1 indicates the smallest grade of the tumor.

If tongue cancer has spread to many lymph nodes, then it is classified as N3. If the tongue cancer has not spread to any neck lymph nodes, then it is classified as N0.

The grade of tongue cancer can be classified in the following ways:

  • High Grade – This type of tongue cancer will spread fast to other areas.
  • Moderate – This type of tongue cancer will spread to a medium level.
  • Low Grade – This type of tongue cancer will not spread much and grow slowly.

This grading can help you understand how fast the cancer is growing and where it has spread so that you can get the right tongue cancer treatment.

Risk Factors for Tongue Cancer

The following factors increase the risk of getting tongue cancer:

  • Poor Mouth Hygiene – If there is continuous irritation from the ill-fitted denture or jagged teeth, then he or she is more prone to the risk of tongue cancer.
  • Poor Diet – People who eat fewer vegetables and fruits have more chances of developing tongue cancer.
  • Personal History of Cancer – If a person has some history of cancer such as cancer of squamous cells, then he or she is more likely to have tongue cancer.
  • Family History of Mouth or Tongue Cancer – If parents or siblings in a person’s family have mouth or tongue cancer, then he or she has more chances of getting affected by the same.
  • Chewing of Betel – People in the southeast & south Asia who chew a lot of betels can develop cancer in their tongue and mouth.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – A person who is infected with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has a high chance of getting affected by tongue cancer.
  • High Alcohol Consumption – Drinking too much alcohol is bad for the health of a person as it increases the chances of cancer in the tongue and mouth.
  • Chewing or Smoking Tobacco – Cigarette or tobacco smoking or chewing increases the risk of tongue cancer.

Also Read:- How Tobacco Causes Mouth Cancer?

Tongue cancer is a very risky cancer that usually cannot be identified at an early stage. You should be careful to avoid using cancer-causing substances and behaviors that can increase the risk of tongue cancer. 

Look out for any possible signs and symptoms of cancer and go for regular screening if you are in a risky category.


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