Health Comes First


   Tongue cancer happens when normal cells in the tongue change into abnormal cells and grow out of control.

Sometimes, tongue cancer happens in people with a condition called "leukoplakia," which causes white or gray patches on the tongue.





What are the symptoms of tongue cancer?

Some people have no symptoms. They find out they have tongue cancer when thei dentist or doctor finds it during a routine exam.

When tongue cancer causes symptoms, they can include:

●A sore or lump on the tongue

●Bleeding from the tongue

●Trouble swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue

●Mouth or tongue pain

●A lump in the neck

All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not tongue cancer. But if you have these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse.

Is there a test for tongue cancer?

   Yes. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and do an exam. During the exam, he or she might use a special mirror to look in your mouth.

Your doctor will also probably look in your mouth and down your throat using a "scope," which is a thin tube with a camera and light on the end. During this procedure, he or she might do a test called a biopsy. For a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from the area that looks like cancer. Then another doctor looks at the sample under a microscope.

You might also have an imaging test, such as an MRI, CT, or PET scan. Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body.

What is cancer staging?

   Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out if a cancer has spread past the layer of tissue where it began, and if so, how far.

The right treatment for you will depend a lot on the stage of your tongue cancer and your other medical problems.

How is tongue cancer treated?

   Treatment for tongue cancer involves one or more of the following:

●Surgery – In most cases, tongue cancer is treated with surgery to remove the cancer. Sometimes, the surgeon needs to remove part of the tongue or mouth in order to remove the cancer. If this happens, the surgeon can "rebuild'" the parts that are removed.

●Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the medical term for medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.

●Radiation therapy – Radiation kills cancer cells.

After treatment with surgery or radiation, many people have problems eating, swallowing, or talking. To help with this, you will have treatment called rehabilitation, or "rehab" for short. During rehab, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals will work with you on eating, swallowing, and talking.

What happens after treatment?

   After treatment, your doctor will check you every so often to see if the cancer comes back. Follow-up tests can include exams, blood tests, and imaging tests. People who are treated for tongue cancer also need to see their dentist for regular follow-ups.

You should also watch for the symptoms listed above. Having those symptoms could mean your tongue cancer has come back. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any symptoms.

What happens if my tongue cancer comes back or spreads?

    If your tongue cancer comes back or spreads, you might have more surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

What else should I do?

     It's important to follow all of your doctor's instructions about visits and tests. It's also important to talk to your doctor about any side effects or problems you have during treatment.

Getting treated for tongue cancer involves making many choices, such as what treatment to have. Always let your doctors and nurses know how you feel about a treatment. Any time you are offered a treatment, ask:

●What are the benefits of this treatment? Is it likely to help me live longer? Will it reduce or prevent symptoms?

●What are the downsides to this treatment?

●Are there other options besides this treatment?

●What happens if I do not have this treatment?