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Tongue carcinoma

Tongue carcinoma is a disease with high malignant potential. In majority of patients the tumor is pathohistologically classified as squam cell carcinoma. The tumor may affect oral part of the tongue or the basis of the tongue. The surgical removal of the tumor differs depending on the part of the tongue which is affected.

Surgery for Oral Tongue Carcinoma

Carcinoma of oral part of the tongue most commonly affects lateral border of the tongue. It is actually an ulceration that won't heal. The tumor may bleed easily if the ulceration has affected deeper layers of the tongue and surrounding tissues. The color of the tumor ranges from red to a combination of grayish and pink. People who are heavy smokers as well as alcoholics are predominantly affected by this type of cancer.

If the tumor is small it can be rather successfully resected. In small tumors both the aesthetics and function are preserved. Still in some patients speech and swallowing may be partially damaged.

If the tumor is bigger after the surgical removal a patient definitely has significant problems with speech and process of swallowing. Together with surgical removal of the tumor the surgeon performs neck dissection and removes obviously affected and potentially affected lymph nodes. The problem with tongue cancer is that even in early stage of the disease tumor cells can spread and affect nearby lymph nodes. This is why the patients need to undergo radical, or selective dissection of the neck.

In some cases after the surgery there is a need for reconstruction. The goal of reconstructive or plastic surgery is to obtain satisfying function of the rest of the tongue and maximum of aesthetics.

Surgery for Carcinoma of the Base of Tongue

Base of the tongue includes posterior 1/3 of the tongue. This specific area allows the tumor to grow unnoticeably for a long time and majority of cancers are detected in advanced stages. At that point patient may complain about pain, difficulties with swallowing or even enlarged lymph nodes of the neck.

In case of cancer of the base of tongue the tumor is surgically removed and the patient undergoes radiotherapy. Together with resection of the tumor the surgeon performs radical or selective dissection of the neck and removes regional lymph nodes.

The prognosis of this cancer comparing to oral tongue cancers is not so good because the majority of tumors are quite large when detected and the percentage of lymph node involvement is higher.

Postoperative radiotherapy can be additional treatment modality in both, oral tongue cancer and cancer of the base of tongue. Radiotherapy may sterilize the operated area and the remaining lymph nodes.

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