Cancer of the tongue is a malignant tumor that develops on the tongue or at the base of the tongue at the back of the throat.
When cancer develops in the front portion of the tongue, it falls in to the category of Oral Cancer, while, cancer at the base of the tongue, is considered a part of Oropharyngeal Cancer. On the basis of the location of the tumor, the symptoms vary.
Statistics say, the incidence of carcinoma tongue is higher in men, than in women; and is frequently detected in males over 40 years of age.
There are a number of symptoms and clinical manifestations of tongue cancer; given below are features that indicate the presence of the disease:
• One of the first tongue cancer symptoms to be noticed is a white / red patch on the tongue. The patch may be situated anywhere on the tongue. Occasionally, some people notice a white / red spot on the tongue. The spot is firm and has raised edges. With time, the patch grows in size and becomes firmer and harder.
• The central portion of the patch is relatively soft and bleeds easily. Bleeding occurs when pressure is exerted over the cancer spots, during chewing, drinking or swallowing, and the spots break open. The cancer spot is extremely tender and can not endure pressure of any kind, thus resulting in easy bleeding. Unexplained bleeding is an important indication and tongue cancer symptom.
• Pain while chewing and / or swallowing are other common manifesting tongue cancer symptoms.
• Some individuals also develop an ulcer or a sore on the tongue, or within the oral cavity, which shows no signs of resolving or subsiding.
• A continual sore throat is a major tongue cancer symptom.
• Numbness in the tongue and mouth occur commonly.
• Change in voice, rigid tongue with reduced movements, and bad breath are other associated tongue cancer symptoms. The patient also complains of difficulty in opening the mouth and the presence of a mass in the neck.
• Occasionally, some people even complain of ear pain.
• A lump at the back of the throat, enlarged neck lymph glands, unexplained and excessive weight loss, and an alteration in the way the dentures normally used to fit inside the mouth are frequently seen tongue cancer symptoms.
In case you notice or experience any of these clinical features, you must visit your doctor / health care professional immediately. Never neglect these symptoms. Tongue cancer ought to be taken seriously, since the tumor tends to spread rapidly to the gums, jaws and throat.
The effective and successful management of tongue cancer needs sufficient knowledge about the symptoms of the disease, and an early diagnosis of the condition. Some symptoms of carcinoma tongue are quite prominent, whereas some are hard to detect. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the only way to limit its progress.
Depending on the size of the tumor and the extent of its spread, the treatment may comprise of surgery, chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy.