Tongue cancer is a malignant tumor of the tongue which in majority of cases originates from superficial cells of the tongue. The tumor may start growing at the base of the tongue, on its sides or it can affect oral part of the tongue. In case tongue cancer originates from cells situated at the base of the tongue it is referred to as oropharyngeal cancer. This cancer can grow for a long period of time without causing any symptoms and it cannot simply be seen since it is located deep in the oral cavity. Once the tumor has grown to a sufficient size it leads to certain symptoms and signs.
Symptoms of Tongue Cancer
Symptoms of tongue cancer depend on the locations of the tumor, its size and destruction of the nearby structures. Additionally symptoms tend to be different in different stages of the disease.
Tongue cancer can be in a form of red or white patch or a lump. This formation can be found on every part of the tongue. It does not withdraw and tends to increase in time. Tongue cancer can also be in a form of a firm spot with raised edges. The tumor tends to grow and eventually its center becomes softer and starts to bleed. A bleeding ulceration is one more presentation of tongue cancer. If it does not heal within short period of time a person must visit his/ her doctor as soon as possible.
Additional symptoms of tongue cancer are pain while chewing and/or swallowing, numbness of he tongue or other parts of the mouth, bad breath, tongue rigidity and inability of a patient to move tongue in all physiological directions.
Once the symptoms have developed a person is due to report them without hesitation. Tongue cancer (particularly if it affects specific parts of the tongue) may rapidly spread and affect regional lymph nodes which make the prognosis of the disease worse.
Symptoms of Advanced Tongue Cancer
The progression of the disease can lead to cancer spread to nearby organs and tissues. The tumor may infiltrate the entire tongue and restrict all the movements. Furthermore, the tumor at the base of the tongue, if large enough, interferes in swallowing of food or in more severe cases affects even fluids. This leads to progressive weight loss. Patients can also complain about sore throat. The spread of the tumor can also lead to changes in voice and ache in the middle ear. If the tumor has spread to regional lymph nodes they are enlarged. Their enlargement can be seen with naked eye or if their size have changed only a bit this can be palpated.