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Causes of Tongue Cancer

Uncover the complexities of tongue cancer as we explore its causes, risk factors, and potential preventive measures in this informative article.

  • 12 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read

Tongue cancer, or oral cancer, is a relatively rare form of the disease that affects many people. It’s growing more common over time, most likely due to higher use of tobacco and alcohol products. Unfortunately, it can be easily missed by patients or health care providers, leading to a delay in diagnosis resulting in poorer outcomes. Whether you know someone with tongue cancer, have been recently diagnosed yourself, or just want to know what you can do to reduce your risk for developing it - learning about the causes of tongue cancer is essential in awareness and prevention.


How is Tongue Cancer Caused?

Some of the important reasons and risk factors responsible for tongue cancer are mentioned below: 

  • Genetic mutation – There are two very well-known genes whose alteration has been found to be linked with the incidence of various types of head and neck cancer, including tongue cancer. These two genes are EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) and p53 (Tumor suppressor protein 53).
  • Smoking – Smoking is one of the major and most common tongue cancer reasons. The propensity of tongue squamous cell carcinoma in regular smokers is about 10 times higher than in non-smokers. The cigarette smoke contains many known cancer-causing agents such as polycyclic hydrocarbons and nitroso compounds. These compounds can cause damage to cellular DNA in the tongue, causing it to overgrow.
  • Tobacco chewing – Similar to smoking, tobacco chewing is also an important causative agent for tongue cancer. Here, the harmful cancer-causing chemicals are directly released into the oral cavity and over the tongue.
  • Alcohol consumption – Regular and heavy alcohol users are also at higher risk of developing tongue cancer. Alcohol is known to be metabolised into aldehyde which can change DNA functioning.
  • HPV infection – Human papillomavirus infection is another reason behind tongue cancer incidence. Persistent HPV infection has shown a strong link to the incidence of tongue cancer and other oropharyngeal cancer (up to 70 % of cases of oropharyngeal cancer linked to HPV infection).
  • Poor oral hygiene – Poor oral hygiene, which includes not cleaning teeth and gums regularly, poor diet, betel chewing and exposure to radiation. can enhance the risk of tongue cancer.
  • Weak immunity – People with weak immunity are often at risk for developing many forms of cancers, including tongue cancer.

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In conclusion, tongue cancer is a serious issue. It has been linked to a number of environmental and lifestyle-related factors, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and exposure to certain types of viruses. Understanding the causes of tongue cancer can help prevent life-threatening health issues down the line. Taking steps towards reducing or quitting these habits can greatly lower the risk of developing this form of cancer. Invasive treatments may be necessary if it develops, but if caught early enough, partial self-treatment may be an option. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress.

Disclaimer: The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.


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