Tongue cancer usually develops in squamous cells on the surface of the tongue, which can cause tumors or injuries.

The tongue

There are two parts to your tongue: 

  • the oral tongue
  • the base of the tongue

Cancer can develop in either part.

  • The oral tongue is the part you see when you poke your tongue out at someone. This is the front two thirds of your tongue. Cancers that develop in this part of the tongue come under a group of cancers called mouth (oral) cancer.
  • The base of the tongue is the back third of the tongue. This part is very near your throat (pharynx). Cancers that develop in this part are called oropharyngeal cancers (pronounced oar-o-farin-gee-al). 

The most common type of tongue cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Squamous cells are the flat, skin like cells that cover the lining of the mouth, nose, larynx, thyroid and throat. Squamous cell carcinoma is the name for a cancer that starts in these cells.

The most noticeable signs of tongue cancer are the appearance of long-lasting sores and sore tongue.

As with other types of oral cancer, many early signs of tongue cancer are difficult to detect, so people may not notice any symptoms as the cancer develops. On the contrary, there are many cases with these conditions but not cancer, it may be a manifestation of some other oral diseases.

People who are at high risk for tongue cancer, such as having a habit of smoking or drinking excessively, should be more alert to any early signs and, at the same time, make regular appointments with their doctor. or the dentist can check the mouth and take timely measures.

Stages of tongue cancer

Doctors classify most types of cancer into stages according to the extent of the cancer's presence and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

The classification system uses letters and numbers. The letter T indicates the tumor and the letter N refers to the neck lymph nodes. These letters have a corresponding level from 1 to 4 or 0 to 3.

In particular, T1 is the smallest type of tumor, T4 is the largest type of tumor. N0 is a stage of tongue cancer that does not spread to any neck lymph nodes and N3 indicates that tongue cancer has spread to a significant number of lymph nodes.

In addition, tongue cancer can be classified into: Low grade, Moderate, high grade to indicate the extent of cancer growth and the ability to spread to other other parts.


Similar to other cancers, scientists have not found the cause of this disease but there are a number of risk factors:

  • Smoking, drinking excessively. Smokers are up to 15 times more likely to develop tongue cancer.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of tongue cancer.

  • There is an unhealthy diet, few vegetables, fruits, many processed foods, red meat
  • HPV infection
  • Having a family history of tongue or mouth cancer
  • Have ever had cancer, especially squamous cell cancer
  • Chewing betel nuts, habit of many Southeast Asians
  • Contact with special chemicals such as asbestos, sulfuric acid and formaldehyde
  • Poor oral hygiene or factors that affect oral health such as serrated teeth easily damaged, using inappropriate dentures ...
  • In addition, older men are the most at-risk group for tongue cancer, most common among people 50 and older. 

How is tongue cancer diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, the doctor will take a medical history and ask specific questions about symptoms. A patient's tongue and neck will be examined and a small, long-handled mirror will be used to look down the throat.

Several tests are used to aid in the diagnosis. These tests include:

  • X-rays of the mouth and throat, including CT (computed tomography) scans (X-rays that show images in thin sections).
  • PET scans (positron emission tomography), which use radioactive materials to identify excessive activity in an organ. This may indicate the tumor is growing.
  • Tongue cancer usually requires a biopsy, a small sample of tissue that is removed from a tumor to diagnose cancer. After the surgeon removes the tissue, a pathologist will examine the cells under a microscope. There are different methods to obtain a biopsy:
    • Fine needle aspiration biopsy. A thin needle is inserted into the tumor mass and a sample is drawn out by suction into a syringe.
    • Incisional biopsy. A sample is removed with a scalpel (surgical knife).
    • Punch biopsy. A small circular blade removes a round area of tissue.

Source Vnexpress

Department of Oncology, City International Hospital provides the most advanced cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment services through a combination of surgical, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal treatments. target hit - immune.

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