Carcinoma of the tongue is a type of skin cancer that appears on some part of the tongue. Without early treatment, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body, creating a potential medical crisis. Symptoms of carcinoma of the tongue may include abnormally colored patches of skin on the tongue, a lump or sore that will not go away, or difficulty swallowing. Treatment for this condition may include surgery to remove the cancerous cells, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Early symptoms of carcinoma of the tongue often include the presence of small white patches on the tongue. In some cases, red patches or a mixture of red and white patches may appear. A lump or sore that may or may not hurt is another potential symptom. The tongue may begin to bleed for no apparent reason, or chewing and swallowing may become difficult or painful. Many cases of carcinoma of the tongue are diagnosed during a routine visit to the dentist, especially if pain or other bothersome symptoms are not present.
Other medical conditions, including infection, often cause symptoms that are similar to those of carcinoma of the tongue. For this reason, any bothersome symptoms should be reported to a doctor or dentist so that a through evaluation can be performed. When diagnosed early, carcinoma of the tongue can be easily treated in most cases before it has a chance to spread to other parts of the body. If cancer is suspected, a procedure known as a biopsy may be performed by having a small piece of the suspicious tissue removed and sent to a lab to be tested for the presence of cancer cells.
If the suspected diagnosis of carcinoma of the tongue is confirmed, treatment will typically begin right away. In many cases, a minor surgery to remove the cancerous portion of the tongue is all that is needed. Further testing will need to be done after the procedure to make sure the cancer has not moved to other area of the body. Reconstructive surgery or cosmetic surgery may be done following this procedure, depending on the amount of tissue that is removed during the cancer surgery.
In some cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is needed in order to treat carcinoma of the tongue. Chemotherapy involves introducing various chemicals into the body in an effort to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy uses high levels of energy to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used together to treat cancer patients.