Tongue Problems - Oral Cancer

Have you been diagnosed with oral cancer on your tongue? How are you coping?

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Growths

Traumatic fibroma is commonly found on the tongue and appears as a raised, thickened nodule that is dome-shaped, pink, and smooth. It is the result of chronic irritation of one area of the tongue, particularly along the bite line of the tongue. It is considered benign. Excisional biopsy is usually performed to definitively diagnose the lesion and completely excise it from the tongue.

Previously mentioned colored lesions, leukoplakia (white), erythroplakia (red), and erythroleukoplakia (red-white), are also classified as growths of the tongue. In most instances, biopsy is recommended for these lesions to rule out premalignancy.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common cancer related to the oral cavity, making up 90% of all oral cancers. Oral cancer makes up approximately 2% of all cancers in the U.S. It commonly involves the lateral surface of the tongue. Risk factors for SCC are older age (age 40 and up), tobacco use, and alcohol use. In younger individuals, cases of SCC are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV). In recent years, it has been discovered that HPV has contributed more to the incident rate of oral cancers. SCC clinically presents as a thickened rough surface over a red or white base. Nodules and ulcerations may follow as the growth progresses. In some cases, the tumor will be present at the base of the tongue and will be difficult to detect until it reaches its late stage of development. Treatment for SCC involves a mix of surgical removal, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Immunotherapy and gene therapy are examples of newer treatments being investigated. Clinical trials of new treatment may be a possible option for advanced cancers. Each individual should understand the nature of the cancer and options available for treatment in order to make the best decisions.

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