Tongue Cancer

Overview

Tongue cancer starts in the squamous cells, which cover the tongue’s surface. If cancer appears in the front two-thirds of the tongue, it’s considered a type of oral cancer. If cancer appears on the back third of the tongue, it’s considered a form of oropharyngeal (throat) cancer.

Symptoms

Oral tongue cancer symptoms include:

  • A lump that bleeds easily 
  • A lump on either side of the tongue closest to the teeth

Base of the tongue cancer symptoms include:

  • Ear pain (often the first and/or only symptom)
  • A sense of fullness or a lump in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Voice changes

Diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms, and your doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans. He or she may also take a biopsy to test for cancer.

Treatment Options

Your Aurora care team, including head and neck cancer specialists, will work with you to determine the best possible treatment. Options may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy, which uses high-energy radiation to treat the tumor. This may include CyberKnife® radiosurgery, in which a non-invasive, robotic system delivers high radiation doses to tumors with pinpoint accuracy. 
  • Chemotherapy, which uses cancer-fighting drugs stop the growth of tumors.

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