In oral cavity (mouth) cancer, two-thirds of the tongue (towards the front) gets affected by the disease. Oropharyngeal cancer occurs when the base of the tongue (near the back of the throat) has developed a cancer. Tongue cancer is a common and severe form of cancer that affects men more than women. Lips, cheeks, hard palate (bony roof of the mouth), floor of the mouth below the tongue, minor salivary glands, and gums could also be affected by mouth cancer. Most types of cancers when diagnosed and treated at an early stage, usually have moderate to good prognosis. The same stands true for tongue cancer. However, treatment of an advanced form of the ailment has a poor outlook.
Important Indicants of Tongue Cancer
# Among all the symptoms, the first one that is noticed is a red or white spot on the tongue. This spot may vary in size from being small to medium, and can also be found on the lining of the mouth or gums. The spot turns into a firm spot and develops raised edges. This indicates that the cancer is progressing.
# Experiencing throat pain or having difficulty while chewing or swallowing food is also a common symptom of the condition. It is known as dysphagia. Note that, the same is also a common symptom of strep throat (sore throat). However, if it is accompanied by the symptoms mentioned above or below, then it is most likely an indication of a tongue cancer.
# Bleeding is a usual symptom seen in people with cancer of the tongue. The cancer spots are too tender to tolerate pressure of any kind, and break open due to friction caused by chewing, swallowing or drinking, etc. thus, they bleed. Apart from bleeding, patients may also develop ulcers that show no signs of healing.
# The voice of the person may also seem a little different from the usual tone, accompanied by an ache localized in the middle or inner ear. The breath and taste of the mouth goes from bad to worse. This is because tongue cancer is like an infection. It produces a foul breath in the mouth, and the tongue has a disgusting taste. This foul smell due to the cancer is different from typical bad breath.
# Other tongue cancer symptoms include:
- Loose teeth or tooth for no obvious reasons
- Neck pain, jaw ache
- Reduced movement of the tongue
- A lump that develops at the back of the throat or in the lining of the mouth
- Abnormal weight loss
- A feeling of something stuck in the throat
- Abnormal changes in the taste
As mentioned, if the cancer is detected when it is still localized, then using a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy the condition could be completely cured. The treatment procedures highly depend on the location of the cancer, and the extent of its spread. If it is localized and small, then it could be removed through minor surgery.
Extensive surgical procedure could be required for larger tumors. For a cancer that has spread to the neck, the treatment comprises getting rid of the cancerous lymph nodes and other tissues. Most people may require to undergo a reconstructive surgery after the surgery to remove the cancer. This is to help them regain their ability to talk and eat.
To conclude, the best way to deal with cancer is not letting it develop in the first place. Although, there is no assured way to prevent tongue cancer, there are some measures that may reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include avoiding using tobacco, drinking alcohol in moderation, and having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Equally important is to make regular visits to your dentist so that you can rule out any precancerous changes.