Tongue cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the tongue. The tongue comprises two types of tissue: squamous and glandular. Tongue cancer can develop in either type of cell, but most cases occur in squamous cells. Tongue cancer is more common in men than women, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Further on, we will talk about tongue cancer stages.
-Tobacco use: People can develop tongue cancer from smoking. Smoking tobacco is the most common cause of tongue cancer. Chewing tobacco and snuffing also increases a person's risk.
-Heavy alcohol use: Drinking alcohol increases the risk of tongue cancer, especially if a person smokes tobacco.
-HPV on Tongue: Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for tongue cancer. HPV on the tongue is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause abnormal changes in the cells of the language.
-Oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene and dental health can increase the risk of tongue cancer.
-Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of tongue cancer.
-Age: Tongue cancer is more common in people over 50.
The symptoms of tongue cancer can vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Tongue cancer often starts as a small, painless sore that does not heal on the tongue. The sore may bleed easily and appear as a red or white patch on the tongue. Tongue cancer may also cause problems with chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
-A sore throat that does not go away
Tongue cancer stages range from I to IV. Tongue cancer caught in the early stages (I and II) can often be cured with surgery and radiation therapy. However, tongue cancer that has spread to other body parts (phase IV) is more challenging to treat and is often incurable.
If a person has symptoms of tongue cancer, their doctor will perform a physical examination and take a medical history. The doctor may also order one or more tests to make a diagnosis.
-Biopsy: A biopsy removes a small piece of tissue from the tongue for examination under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way to diagnose tongue cancer definitively.
-Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans look for tumors in the tongue.
-Endoscopy: An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera to examine the inside of the throat.
After performing the tests, the doctor will review the results and diagnose. For example, if a person gets tongue cancer, their doctor will stage cancer to determine its extent. Staging is necessary because it helps guide treatment decisions.
The treatment for tongue cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the patient's overall health, and preferences. Treatment options for tongue cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
After treatment, a patient will be closely monitored for signs of cancer recurrence. Follow-up appointments may include physical examinations, imaging tests, and blood tests. These appointments are essential to ensure that cancer has not returned.
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