Treatment of tongue cancer is based on the nature of the disease, as already mentioned. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation are included in the treatment plan.
Surgical removal of the tumor is usually the first option in the treatment. The size, location and depth of the tumor influences the surgery. An early initiative for the treatment helps in removing small cancers through the mouth, using laser cautery. This ensures the removal of the entire tumor without affecting the normal function of the tongue. In cases, where in, the depth of the tumor has increased, removal of the nearby neck lymph nodes may be included in the surgery. For tumors that are larger than normal, surgeons utilize the latest of the techniques, without ill aftermath of the surgery.
After conducting surgery, radiation treatment may follow. There may remain some possibilities of untreated cancer cells in the tongue, even after the surgery. To remove these cells, radiation therapy involves exposure of high-energy X-rays to kill the remainder cancer cells. The therapy also uses radioisotopes or electronic beams for the same purpose. The therapy is a localized treatment; it deals with cancer cells only in the treated area. The patient may receive two kinds of this therapy; internal and external radiation. Common side effects of radiation therapy comes up in the forms of skin reactions, tiredness, loss of appetite, etc. However, these and other side effects can be easily controlled and treated.
Chemotherapy may be required in extreme cases, wherein, the tongue cancer may have extended itself to the nearby lymph nodes in the neck or other areas. In short, this type of treatment is required when the cancer is no more localized and has spread elsewhere. Medical oncologists may administer chemotherapy orally in the form of medication or it can be given through a vein. This treatment basically involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells.
This surgery is often required to retain functions of the tongue (speech, swallowing, eating) after its surgical excision. It is a procedure to restore the normal surface architecture of the tongue, which might have been changed after surgical removal of the tongue tissue. This surgery is basically performed to improve the facial appearance of the patient.
Professionals who specialize in dietetics, speech therapy, swallowing therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy are the responsible persons in rehabilitation. This step marks the last phase in the treatment of tongue cancer. The number of sessions required by the patient depends upon the extent of the cancer and also the degree of the after-effects of the surgery on the tongue. People going for such sessions, are taught how to swallow, eat, speak and retain all the normal functions of their tongue.
People undergoing the various treatment methods for tongue cancer must be mentally prepared for everything that follows once the treatment is initiated. However, as we can see, the procedures that are undertaken by the professionals, ensure complete safety and positive results post-treatment depending upon the stage of the disease.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.