Tongue cancer is a type of oral cancer that forms in the front two-thirds of the tongue. Cancer that forms in the back one third of the tongue is considered a type of head and neck cancer.
Tongue cancer usually develops in the squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that cover the surface of the tongue.
Common tongue cancer symptoms
Symptoms of tongue cancer are very similar to symptoms of other types of oral cancer. It can often be mistaken for a cold that won’t go away, or a persistent sore in the mouth. Other tongue cancer symptoms and signs may include:
- Persistent tongue and/or jaw pain
- A lump or thickening in the inside of the mouth
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Advanced treatments for tongue cancer
Common tongue cancer treatments include:
Surgery: Tumor resection involves an operation to remove the entire tumor from the tongue. Minimally invasive surgical techniques are used whenever possible to treat tongue cancer.
Radiation therapy: Your radiation oncologist will administer radiation therapy to cancerous tissues of the tongue, using a high dose with pinpoint accuracy, sparing healthy tissue and shortening procedure times.
Chemotherapy: Often combined with radiation therapy, chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. It may be an option if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Different chemotherapy drugs can be combined to attack cancer cells at varying stages of their growth cycles and decrease the chance of drug resistance.
Targeted drug therapy: Targeted drug therapy targets cancerous cells to interfere with cell growth on a molecular level. It is often combined with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy as part of a tongue cancer treatment plan.
Learn about oral cancer symptoms