All You Need to Know About Tongue Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

tongue cancer symptoms

Tongue cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that physically manifests itself into lesions and tumours over the tongue. This kind of oral cancer can occur either on the base of the tongue or the front of the tongue. Since there are different types of tongue cancer, it is essential to understand all the different types, stages, symptoms, causes and prevention care for them. This way, you can make changes and take steps to prevent or fight it.

Tongue Cancer Causes

While many types of cancer occur without concrete causes and so does tongue cancer, a few causes directly lead to this kind of oral cancer. Some important tongue cancer causes are

Smoking tobacco: All kinds of tobacco products like cigarettes, pipes and cigars can increase the risk of tongue cancer by promoting the growth of cancerous cells.

Consumption of alcohol: Excessive alcohol can damage the cells in the mouth making them more open to turning into cancerous cells.

HPV infection: HPV virus, a sexually transmitted disease, is known to cause tongue cancer, especially on the base of the tongue.

Excess sun exposure: Direct unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful rays like UVA and UVB rays can also be a reason for tongue cancer to develop on the lips.

Tongue Cancer Symptoms

There are a few tongue cancer symptoms that you can look out for and note. Some of the most important symptoms are:

  • Frequent mouth ulcers or sores that do not recover
  • Red or white patches on the tongue or mouth area
  • Pain, discomfort around the tongue or mouth
  • Problem with chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Soreness in the throat
  • Swollen neck or lumps in the neck
  • Sudden weight loss

Stages of Tongue Cancer

Like every kind of cancer, tongue cancer is also classified into different stages based on how much it has spread. The stages help healthcare professionals devise a treatment plan for the patient. Here are all the tongue cancer stages you should know about:

Stage 0: Cancer is only present in the superficial layers of the tongue.

Stage I: The tumour is very small and only limited to the tongue. At this stage, it has not spread to the lymph nodes or other areas.

Stage II: The tumour is larger and may have spread to nearby structures but has not reached the lymph nodes or distant sites.

Stage III: The tumour is significantly larger and may have spread to lymph nodes by this stage.

Stage IV: The tumour is far more advanced, and has spread to lymph nodes, along with some distant organs or tissues.

Tongue Cancer Prevention Tips

Catching cancer like tongue cancer in its early stages can be crucial for recovery. And, there are also many different ways of preventing tongue cancer. Of course, you may still get tongue cancer for reasons unknown, but by following these tongue cancer prevention tips, you can reduce your chances of being diagnosed with tongue cancer:

  • Avoid or cut back on tobacco by not smoking pipes, cigars and cigarettes.
  • Do away with alcohol or reduce your alcohol intake to avoid damage to the cells in your mouth
  • Use SPF religiously every day before stepping out in the sun. This way your skin stays protected from the harsh rays of the sun and the potential risks of tongue cancer on the lips.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and using a fluoride mouthwash 2 times a day can help keep your mouth safe from germs, issues and cancer too. Explore makeO toothsi’s extensive range of oral care products to elevate your oral health and prevent further issues.
  • Lastly, it is pertinent to go for regular oral health checks to ensure that your tongue does not have any abnormalities or growths.


What are the first signs of cancer of the tongue?

Some tongue cancer symptoms are

  • Pain while swallowing, eating etc
  • Red or white patches or areas on the tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers that don’t go away
  • Burning feeling all over the tongue

Is a cancer of the tongue curable?

Yes, when tongue cancer is detected early, it is curable. However, when left undetected and undiagnosed tongue cancer can be life-threatening and incurable.

What does Stage 1 tongue cancer look like?

Stage 1 tongue cancer is when a tumour appears but its size is very small and has not reached the lymph nodes.

Is tongue cancer visible?

Early stages of tongue cancer have small tumours which can hardly be spotted by the eyes. But if tongue cancer is in its later stages it is very evident as the tumours and sores can grow.

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