Tongue cancer refers to a type of malignant oral cancer that normally starts in the forward two-thirds of the tongue or base of the tongue. Although tongue cancer is not “catchable” or contagious in any way and it is mostly observed in men than women.
The tumor is often difficult to see in the early stages as there are very few symptoms to be noticed.
Symptoms in later stages:
It’s hard to pin down the causes of tongue cancer because it is also seen in people with no risk factors at all. In some people the most observed and most common risk factors are:
Several tests are used to aid in the diagnosis. Initially the doctor will take a medical history and enquire about the symptoms. The tests include the following:
Once tongue cancer is diagnosed, the treatment is based on stage, size and location of the tumor.
The various treatments include:
The surgical removal of the cancerous tumor and nearby tissue is often the preferred treatment especially when the tumor is visible and quite small (less than 2 cm), and when it is lateralized to one side and does not involve the base of the tongue.
2. Radiation Therapy (or Radiotherapy)
The treatment is given with the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is mostly used when the cancer is at the back of the tongue.
Chemotherapy alone is not used to treat the tongue cancer completely but when it is used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy it helps to control the growth of the tumor.
Chemotherapy is prescribed in different ways:
4. Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT determines the accurate dose of radiation required to treat the tumor. It is mainly aimed at damaging only the rapidly dividing cancer cells and minimizing radiation exposure to the surrounding tissue.
5. Targeted drug therapies such as monoclonal antibodies interrupt the spread and growth of specific tongue cancer cells
6. Reconstructive surgery to restore physical appearance and function to the tongue and surrounding organs
7. Rehabilitation to help you regain speech and swallowing function
As we know that prevention is better than cure, taking preventive steps can avoid tongue cancer and improve your oral health. Preventive measures to lower your chances of oral cancer are:
The advanced treatment cost for Surgery, Radiation and/or Chemotherapy for tongue cancer can vary from $4500 to $8500. The cost involved may vary from state to state and may include stay in a private room, patient surgeon fee, medicines and consumables, nursing care and food.
All treatments will have side effects but the advantage is some of them last for few days and others for months. Side effects may be temporary or permanent. Some of them are: