Tongue Cancer

Tongue Cancer

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Important

It is possible that the main title of the report Tongue Cancer is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Synonyms

  • Cancer of the Tongue
  • Carcinoma of the Tongue
  • Tongue, Carcinoma

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Tongue cancers are oral cancers that are differentiated by their location in the mouth and on the tongue. If the cancer is on the forward portion of the tongue, it is known as a squamous cell cancer of the oral tongue. If the cancer is located towards the rear third of the tongue, it is known as a squamous cell cancer at the base of the tongue.



The characteristics of these two cancers are quite distinct, and reflect the differences in their origins. The difference in origins is also the reason that the treatment of these two forms of tongue cancer is quite different. Oral cancers are relatively rare, representing only about three percent of all cancers.

Symptoms

Generally, the first sign of squamous cell cancer of the oral tongue is a pinkish-red sore at the side of the tongue that persists and seems not to heal over time. Quite often, the sore bleeds easily if bitten or touched. If this occurs, it is recommended that the person see a physician, especially if the person is older than fifty.



In its earliest developmental period, squamous cell cancer of the base of the tongue is asymptomatic. This means that the cancer does not make itself known until later in its growth. However, symptoms may begin with pain in the tongue and surrounding tissue, changes in voice tones and sounds, and difficulty in swallowing that may lead to feelings of bloat or fullness. Because the early symptoms are dormant, most squamous cell cancers of the base of the tongue are further advanced by the time a patient sees a physician. Many patients will have already had squamous cancer cells in the lymph nodes of the neck (metastases).

Causes

The cause of tongue cancer is unknown. Inadequate oral hygiene and thickened white patches on the mucous membranes of the oral cavity (leukoplakia) may be a cause. The disorder is statistically linked with alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, excessive smoking, and syphilis.



Irritation by jagged teeth, projecting fillings and ill-fitting dentures may also be factors contributing to development of tongue cancer. As in some other types of cancer, the possibility of a genetic predisposition to malignancy may also be a factor.

Affected Populations

Tongue cancer is most common in men over age 60. It is rare in people, particularly women, under age 40.

Standard Therapies

Diagnosis

Examination of a sample of tissue from the site of the suspected cancer by a qualified pathologist is the key to diagnosis. MRI and/or CAT scans may be ordered to determine the location and size of the growth. This examination will also determine the stage of the disorder (how advanced it may be), which in turn, will help determine the method and pace of treatment.



Treatment

Not all specialists agree on the form of treatment of an oral tumor at any particular stage. Most do, however, agree that any dental work that the patient may need should be taken care of before treatment of the cancer begins and that smoking must stop. Treatment usually consists of surgery followed by radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is less commonly administered.



Controversy exists among cancer specialists (oncologists) and among head & neck surgeons regarding which of several surgical procedures yields better outcomes. Controversy also exists regarding the used of implanted radioactive seeds (brachytherapy) as an alternative to external beam therapy. Regardless, early diagnosis and treatment is imperative, especially in individuals under 20 years of age.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.



For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:



Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010

Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov



For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:

www.centerwatch.com

References

TEXTBOOKS

Sidransky D. Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: De Vita Jr Vt, Hellman S, Rosenburg SA. eds. Cancer: Principles and Practice on Oncology. 5th ed. J.B. Lippincott Company. Philadelphia, PA; 1997:779-81 (Oral Tongue), :783-86 (Base of Tongue).



REVIEW ARTICLES

Palme CE, Gullane PJ, Gilbert RW. Current treatment options in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Surg Oncol Clin N Amer. 2004;13:47-70.



Lin DT, Subbaramaiah K, Shah JP, et al. Cyclooxygenase-2: a novel molecular target for the prevention of treatment of head and neck cancer. Heasd Neck. 2002;24:792-99.



Sciubba JJ. Oral cancer. The importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2:239-51.



Llewellyn CD, Johnson NW, Warnakulasuriya KA. Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity in young people - a comprehensive literature review. Oral Oncol. 2001;37:401-18.



Lingen M, Sturgis EM, Kies MS. Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in nonsmokers: clinical and biologic characteristics and implications for management. Curr Opin Oncol. 2001;13:176-82.



McCann MF, Macpherson LM, Gibson J. The role of the dental practitioner in detection and prevention of oral cancer: review of the literature. Dent Update. 2000;27:404-08.



Yoleri L, Mavioglu H. Total tongue reconstruction with free functional gracilis muscle transplantation: a technical note and review of the literature. Ann Plast Surg. 2000;45:181-86.



Harrison LB. Applications of brachytherapy in head and neck cancer. Semin Surg Oncol. 1997;13:177-84



FROM THE INTERNET

Oral Cancer. What You Need To Know About. National Cancer Institute. nd. 27pp.

www.cancer.gv/cancertopics/wyntk/oral/allpages/print



Oral Cancer. CancerNet. National Cancer Institute. Last modified: 12/12/2000. 17pp.

www.medhelp.org/NIHlib/GF-458.html

Resources

American Cancer Society, Inc.

250 Williams NW St

Ste 6000

Atlanta, GA 30303

USA

Tel: (404)320-3333

Tel: (800)227-2345

TDD: (866)228-4327

Internet: http://www.cancer.org



National Cancer Institute

6116 Executive Blvd Suite 300

Bethesda, MD 20892-8322

USA

Tel: (301)435-3848

Tel: (800)422-6237

TDD: (800)332-8615

Email: cancergovstaff@mail.nih.gov

Internet: http://www.cancer.gov



Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer, Inc.

P.O. Box 53

Locust Valley, NY 11560-0053

USA

Tel: (516)759-5333

Fax: (516)671-8794

Tel: (800)377-0928

Email: info@spohnc.org

Internet: http://www.spohnc.org



OncoLink: The University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center Resource

3400 Spruce Street

2 Donner

Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283

USA

Tel: (215)349-8895

Fax: (215)349-5445

Email: hampshire@uphs.upenn.edu

Internet: http://www.oncolink.upenn.edu



Rare Cancer Alliance

1649 North Pacana Way

Green Valley, AZ 85614

USA

Internet: http://www.rare-cancer.org



Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223

Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/



Friends of Cancer Research

1800 M Street NW

Suite 1050 South

Washington, DC 22202

Tel: (202)944-6700

Email: info@focr.org

Internet: http://www.focr.org



Cancer Support Community

1050 17th St NW Suite 500

Washington, DC 20036

Tel: (202)659-9709

Fax: (202)974-7999

Tel: (888)793-9355

Internet: http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/



Lance Armstrong Foundation

2201 E. Sixth Street

Austin, TX 78702

Tel: (512)236-8820

Fax: (512)236-8482

Tel: (877)236-8820

Email: media@livestrong.org

Internet: http://www.livestrong.org



Oral Cancer Foundation

3419 Via Lido #205

Newport Beach, CA 92663

USA

Tel: (949)723-4400

Email: info@oralcancerfoundation.org

Internet: http://www.oralcancer.org



For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.® (NORD). Cigna members can access the complete report by logging into myCigna.com. For non-Cigna members, a copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use . How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.