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What Is the Treatment for a Tongue Tumor?

Surgical reconstruction is almost always necessary after removing a tongue tumor.
A tongue.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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A tongue tumor is an abnormal growth in the tissue of the tongue. This type of tumor can be found either toward the front of the tongue, known as the oral tongue, or at the base of the tongue. An oral tongue tumor is usually treated with surgery, and sometimes radiation may be necessary. Doctors typically treat a tumor at the base of the tongue with radiation and chemotherapy, before resorting to surgery. Surgical reconstruction and speech therapy may also be necessary, since the surgery and the tumor itself can cause problems, such as speech difficulties.

The term oral tongue typically refers to the part of the tongue that a person can move, or the front of the tongue. Tumors are most common on this portion of the tongue. These types of tumors usually develop on the side of the tongue.

Surgery is usually the first course of treatment for an oral tongue tumor. This is especially true if the tumor is rather small. Doctors may opt to use radiation to get rid of a larger tumor, on the other hand. Sometimes, a combination of these treatments will be used.

A tongue tumor can also be found growing at the base of the tongue. Larger tumors are usually found in this area. This occurs because there is more tissue in this area, so the tumor will generally not be noticed when it is small.

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Since they are larger, tongue tumors at the base of the tongue are typically treated with radiation and chemotherapy first. Surgery to remove the tongue tumor may follow. A combination of these treatment options may also be necessary.

If a tongue tumor is malignant, or cancerous, there is a chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Usually, the cancer will spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. This will typically happen in the later stages of cancer. In this case, removal of these lymph nodes may be necessary as well.

Surgical reconstruction is almost always necessary after removing a tongue tumor. During these procedures, a surgeon will attempt to repair any damage to the tongue. This is done to prevent any cosmetic abnormalities. It is also done to ensure that a patient's speech and swallowing abilities are not impacted.

The tongue is the organ that enables humans to speak and swallow. Many times, a patient will need therapy after having a tongue tumor removed. Speech therapy can help a patient correct any speech abnormalities. Other types of physical therapy may help a patient learn how to overcome swallowing difficulties.

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