Tongue cancer is a form of oral cancer and can affect any part of the tongue. Oral cancer is a type of squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer on the front two thirds of the tongue is considered oral cavity cancer and cancer on the back one third of the tongue is considered throat cancer.
A small, painless bump on the tongue is usually the first sign of tongue cancer. It can become painful and change color or crack as the cancer gets worse. An odd taste in the mouth and difficulty speaking or swallowing can also be signs of tongue cancer.
Men are more likely than women to develop tongue cancer. Tobacco users, including cigarette smokers or people who use chewing tobacco, have an increased risk of developing tongue cancer. Heavy use of alcohol and poor oral hygiene can also be factors in developing tongue cancer.
A biopsy of a bump, sore or lesion in the mouth can confirm if it is oral cancer.
If the cancerous tumor is small, it can be surgically removed. If it is too large to remove or if it has spread to other parts of the face and neck, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be recommend instead of or in addition to surgery.
Tongue cancer can make it difficult to speak or swallow, depending upon where the cancerous tumor is located. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body and can lead to death.