Tongue cancer happens when the cells of the tongue grow abnormally. This can be first detected during a routine examination of your tongue by a dentist or doctor. Tongue cancer is most common in older men than in women. The chances increase in people older than 55 years.
Tongue cancer is generally not detected very early; it will take some time before symptoms start showing up, these include
The cause of tongue cancer is unknown. However, HPV Viruses are known to be able to cause cancer at the base of the tongue. Certain other habits and conditions may raise your chance of getting tongue cancer such as:
Heavy alcohol usage
Family history of the tongue or other cancers
The most common system used for staging cervical cancer is the TNM system.
T stands for Tumour. It is used to describe the size of the tumour. It also helps to determine whether the tumour has grown into other parts of the organ or tissues around the organ. It is represented by a range of 1 to 4. The higher the number means the larger the tumour.
N stands for Lymph Nodes. It helps determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the organ. NX means the impact on lymph nodes cannot be determined. N0 means cancer hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes while N1, N2, and N3 means cancer has spread to lymph nodes. N1 to N3 also shows the range that how many lymph nodes are affected.
M stands for Metastasis. It is used to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body through blood or lymphatic system. MX means the metastasis cannot be determined; M0 means cancer has not spread to other body parts while M1 indicates that it has spread to other body parts.
Sometimes lowercase letters like a, b and c are used to divide the tumour, lymph nodes, and metastasis into subcategories. Also lowercase “is” is used to denote carcinoma in situ. E.g. Tis
The tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller, and cancer hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. (T1, N1, M0)
The tumor is between 2-4 cm, and cancer cells haven’t spread to the lymph nodes. (T2, N1, M0)
The tumor is either larger than 4 cm and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes, or is any size and has spread to one lymph node, but not to other distant parts of the body. (T3, N1, M0)
In this stage, the cancer is either larger than 4cm or has spread to a lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor. That lymph node is also smaller than 3 cm. Cancer has not reached any distant organ.
This is the advanced stage. In this stage, tumours are of any size and the cancer cells have spread to nearby tissues, the lymph nodes, or other distant parts of the body. ((T1-T4, N1-N3, M1)
The greatest risk factor for having oral cancer is smoking and heavy drinking. Other known risk factors include:
Human papilloma Virus or HPV Infection
Previous diagnosis of any oral cancer
Family history of oral or other types of cancers
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of tongue cancer. These are flat cells that line cover the lining of mouth, throat, larynx, etc.
Diagnosing cancer starts with doctors seeking medical history like previous cancers in the family, before physical examination of the mouth is done. On any suspicion of the tumour, the doctors will perform a tissue biopsy.
There are many other ways to diagnose tongue cancer such as:
Treatment for tongue cancer can include the following procedures:
Tongue cancer can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes: