Tongue Cancer: Can It Be Cured?

Tongue cancer is one of the types of cancer in the mouth. The disease can be detected at an early or late stage. Depending on the stage and specific case, there are different treatment methods. In many cases, tongue cancer is preventable by changing habits and lifestyle. Read the article below to know more about how to treat this disease. In addition, SignsSymptomsList also informs you about things you can do to reduce your risk of getting the disease.


1. Overview 

Tongue cancer occurs when the cells of the tongue divide uncontrollably and form a tumor. It is less common than other cancers, most of which appear in older people.

The most common tongue cancer is squamous cell cancer. These are the thin, flattened cells that line the surface of the tongue.

Cancer manifestations vary according to where they appear. Also, location affects treatment options. The disease can occur in the following 2 areas:

In the mouth area

Often manifests early, making resection easier.

In the throat

Cancer starts at the base of the tongue. The disease often presents late, leading to late diagnosis and difficult treatment.

Cancer of the base of the tongue related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) is on the rise. This profoundly affects prognosis and treatment.

The most important treatment is surgery to remove the cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted drug therapy may also be used on a case-by-case basis.

Treatment for advanced tongue cancer can affect your ability to speak and eat. Rehabilitation can help you adapt to the changes caused by cancer treatment.

Tongue Cancer: Can It Be Cured?

Tongue cancer starting location

2. How is tongue cancer diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of tongue cancer and are concerned that you may have the disease, you should see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.

You will be asked and examined for the following:

  • Manifestations of your illness in the past.
  • Personal and family medical history.
  • Your mouth and tongue will be examined and examined.
  • Check the lymph nodes in the neck to see if the disease has spread.
  • If your doctor suspects that you have tongue cancer, you will likely be offered a biopsy. That is, the doctor will press a piece of tissue in the suspicious area to be examined.
  • If the biopsy results confirm cancer, you may be offered a CT or MRI scan. This helps determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Tongue Cancer: Can It Be Cured?

Examination to detect disease

3. Can the disease be cured?

Tongue cancer at an early stage, when the tumor is small, can be treated well. Prognosis is quite good for cases where cancer is detected and diagnosed early. People whose cancer has not spread have a higher survival rate than when the cancer has spread to other areas.

The median 5-year survival rate for tongue cancer is 78% before the cancer has spread. Previously, this rate was 36%. Rates may change in the future.

>> Black tongue is also a not uncommon condition. Is this a worrisome disease? Find out the answer at Black Hairy Tongue: Is it a warning sign of danger?

4. How is tongue cancer treated?

Late-stage cancers are difficult to treat. Patients should always be re-examined to make sure the cancer has not recurred.

People with tongue cancer will often need surgery to remove the tumor. When the tumor is small, the doctor can perform the procedure to remove the tumor easily. You do not have to have anesthesia in this case.

For large or widespread tumors, surgery is more complicated. The part of the tongue that contains the tumor will be removed. In this case, the doctor will use skin or tissue from other parts of the body to regenerate the tongue.

Sometimes, you may have to cut the entire tongue. Doctors will try to minimize damage and keep as much healthy tissue as possible. However, some complications cannot be avoided. Surgery can affect functions such as speaking, eating, swallowing, or breathing.

In addition to surgery, some cases may require a combination of chemotherapy or radiation. This helps kill any remaining cancer cells.

The choice of treatment method depends on the individual case. You should consult your doctor about treatments and possible side effects.

Tongue Cancer: Can It Be Cured?

Partial tongue resection and reconstruction surgery

5. How to prevent tongue cancer?

It is not possible to prevent tongue cancer from developing. However, if you have suspicious symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Because if the disease is diagnosed early, the treatment will be easier and the prognosis is better.

We can prevent some cases of tongue cancer by making lifestyle changes. These ways can help you reduce your risk of getting the disease, including:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid chewing tobacco or betel nut.
  • Limit or stop drinking alcohol.
  • A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Good oral hygiene.
  • Fully vaccinated against HPV .
  • Safe sex, especially during oral sex (high risk of HPV infection).

6. Prognosis of disease

The life expectancy of a person with tongue cancer depends on:

  • At what stage is cancer diagnosed?
  • Was the treatment successful?
  • Other factors.

According to statistics, about 84% of people with stage 1 oral cancer will live more than 5 years. This figure in people with advanced or distant cancer is 39%. Figures may change over time.

Tongue cancer is a type of cancer of the mouth. The most common is squamous cell cancer on the surface of the tongue. Depending on the location of the cancer, it can cause different symptoms. Thereby, patients have different diagnosis time and treatment options. Early diagnosis and treatment can make it easier to get rid of the cancer.

Doctor Su Ngoc Kieu Chinh