Presse Santé

Tongue cancer: symptoms and causes

the Tongue cancer It usually affects the mobile part of the tongue. It develops in the squamous cells located on the surface of the tongue. The obvious signs of this type of cancer are a sore on the tongue that does not heal, pain in the tongue or difficulty swallow. In France, it is the most widespread type of cancer and often affects men over 50 years of age.

What are the causes of tongue cancer?

Scientific researchers do not fully understand why some people get this infection on the tongue. However, several factors can increase the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • the of smoking active
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • An unhealthy diet low in fruits and vegetables but high in red meat or processed foods
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Poor hygiene oral or other factors that affect the mouth, such as irregular teeth that can cause irritation

The telltale signs of the disease.

In the early stages of cancer, you may not notice any symptoms. But it usually manifests as a sore on the tongue that is difficult to heal and bleeds easily. You may also feel pain in your mouth or tongue.

Other clues include:

  • A red or white spot that appears on the mucous membrane mouth or tongue
  • The sensation of pain when swallowing
  • mouth numbness
  • persistent sore throat
  • the bleeding of the tongue without apparent cause
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
  • Thickening of the lining of the mouth.
  • Dentures that no longer fit properly

The people most exposed to mouth cancerAs those who smoke or drink excessively should be careful with all these signs. If they have any of these symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention to have their mouth examined.

How is it detected?

To screen for tongue cancer, your doctor will first review your medical history. They may ask if you have a family history of HPV, if you smoke or drink, and if you have ever tested positive for the HPV virus. He or she will then perform a physical exam of your mouth with the goal of to diagnose signs of cancer like ulcers uncured You will also examine the lymph nodes close to check a swelling.

If your doctor identifies signs of tongue cancer, he or she will perform a biopsy of the suspicious area. This diagnosis consists of removing a small part of the tissue affected by the cancer. This is often done under local anesthesia. The sampled tissue will then be analyzed in a laboratory. If the result is positive, the doctor may ask you to perform a CT scan to assess the depth of the disease and its extent.

Can you be warned?

It is not possible to prevent the development of tongue cancer. However, if you notice any of the signs of cancer, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. In fact, if the disease is diagnosed as soon as possible followed by treatment, the prospects for recovery are good.

But there are also bad lifestyle habits that you can control to reduce the risk of developing tongue cancer. For this, it is recommended:

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid chewing tobacco products
  • Limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether.
  • Eat a healthy and varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly and visiting the dentist every six months if possible.
  • Get a full treatment with the HPV vaccine

Treatment of the disease


Treatment for tongue cancer depends on the size of the tongue. tumor, its location, local invasion, general condition and the patient’s medical history. The main treatment is stillablation or remove the entire tumor. Large tumors must be removed primarily by a surgical operation called a partial glossectomy, in which part of the tongue is removed. If surgeons remove a large part of the tongue, they may rebuild part of the tongue. During this operation, your doctor will take a piece of skin from another part of your body and use it to rebuild your tongue.

Keep in mind that glossectomy can cause significant side effects, such as difficulty eating, breathing, swallowing, or speaking. If so, a speech therapist or dietitian can help you learn to adjust to these changes.


A radiotherapy It may also be needed after surgery to ensure all cancer cells are removed. This type of treatment destroys cancer cells using high-energy rays or particles. Radiotherapy is also one of the main treatment options in rare cases where surgery is not possible.


Therefore, your healthcare professional may recommend a chemotherapy to treat your cancer in combination with surgery and radiation therapy.


In case the cancer recurs or spreads, the use of an immunotherapy drug becomes essential to fight the cancer.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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