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Everything You Need to Know About Tongue Cancer

Tongue cancer can lead to distress and discomfort. Learn about promptly identifying and addressing such issues and how to be secured financially and mentally against it.

  • 07 Sep 2023
  • 5 min read

Your tongue possesses remarkable versatility, carrying out a wide range of tasks. Its impressive mobility allows coordinated functions like speaking, sucking, and swallowing. Not only that, this skilled organ acts as a sensory powerhouse, governing your sense of taste and displaying remarkable sensitivity to touch. In addition, it houses numerous immune cells, actively contributing to your body's defence mechanisms. Understandably, any condition that affects your tongue, such as tongue cancer, can lead to distress and discomfort. However, by promptly identifying and addressing such issues, you can be secured financially and mentally.

What is Tongue Cancer?

Tongue cancer typically arises from abnormal cell growth on your tongue and falls into the category of head and neck cancers. There are various types of tongue-related cancers, but the most common type starts from the flat, slim cells that cover the surface of your tongue, known as squamous cells. This type of cancer is commonly called squamous cell carcinoma.

Your tongue is divided into two distinct parts, namely, the oral tongue and the base of the tongue, both of which can be susceptible to cancer. The oral tongue makes up the first two portions you see when you stick your tongue out. On the other hand, the base of your tongue is located at the back and is very close to your throat.

Symptoms of Tongue Cancer

The following are some of the most common tongue cancer symptoms.

You might notice early stage tongue cancer symptoms such as an unhealed ulcer, sore, or lump on your tongue that tends to bleed easily. This condition can lead to sensations of pain or a lingering burning feeling within your tongue. 

Pay attention to tongue cancer symptoms such as discovering a lump in your neck, experiencing a persistent sore throat, or feeling like something is obstructing your throat over time. This condition might even impact your ability to speak clearly and lead to the development of bad breath, unintentional weight loss, and persistent fatigue.

Causes of Tongue Cancer

The following are some of the most popularly known tongue cancer causes.

Tongue tumour is strongly linked to the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol, as well as exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). While it used to mainly affect older men, this disease in recent years has started affecting women and younger individuals more frequently. This change is partly due to the rise in HPV infections. HPV, a widely spread sexually transmitted infection, affects nearly everyone who is sexually active.

There are other aspects that contribute to the risk of tongue tumour. These include getting older, with those over 45 years of age being more susceptible. Not having enough fruits, vegetables, and sources of vitamin A in your diet also increases your risk. 

Also read:

How is Tongue Cancer Diagnosed?

To diagnose your condition, the doctor will gather your medical history and check for tongue cancer symptoms. They will first typically examine your tongue and neck using a mirror. Based on the analysis, tests will be suggested.

Tongue cancer usually requires a biopsy, where a small piece of tissue is taken from the tumour for cancer diagnosis. PET scans use radioactive materials to detect increased activity in your organs. Radiographic imaging, as well as CT scans, provide detailed images.

How is Tongue Cancer Treated?

The following are some of the popular options available to treat tongue cancer:

Radiation therapy works by stopping cancer cells from dividing and slowing down tumour growth. This approach can also destroy and shrink tumours. Advanced methods allow for stronger radiation doses with fewer side effects compared to traditional methods. 

For cancers found on your tongue, your doctor might recommend surgically removing the main tumour, especially if it's smaller. In cases of a larger tongue tumour or potential spreading to your neck's lymph nodes, your surgeon might suggest removing those affected nodes. 

Chemotherapy can be combined with radiation therapy or used after surgery to significantly decrease the chances of the cancer coming back. Additionally, chemotherapy may be used to slow tumour growth and manage symptoms when a cure isn't possible. 

Can Tongue Cancer Be Prevented?

Though complete prevention of tongue tumour is not possible, there are several precautions you can take to reduce the risk, such as:

  • Steer clear of tobacco products
  • Embrace a well-balanced and nourishing diet
  • Opt to consume alcohol in moderation or consider avoiding it entirely.
  • Take the step to get vaccinated against HPV for added protection.

Even if you take steps to decrease your risk, tongue cancer might still emerge. That's why it's essential for you to have routine checkups, enabling the prompt detection of early stage tongue cancer.


In conclusion, recognising and managing tongue cancer symptoms early on is pivotal in improving your quality of life. Timely intervention can help soothe the physical and emotional burdens linked to this condition. Further, invest in health insurance as soon as possible, with full coverage for cancer treatment. This will provide you protection whenever necessary. By staying vigilant with regular checkups and embracing a balanced lifestyle, you take proactive steps to safeguard your tongue health and minimise the impact of tongue cancer.


This blog offers comprehensive information and discussions on various health and related topics. The information and all other materials presented on this blog, website, or any linked resources are not meant to serve as a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is strongly recommended that you consult your healthcare provider before initiating any new medication or health regimen.

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