What Is the Treatment for a Tongue Tumor?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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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.


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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Post 4

I was told by my doctor today that I have a tumor on the base of my tongue. I had been having issues swallowing and had a major bleeding event. The bleeding was thought to be from my sinus and the swallowing wasn't much of an issue but I decided to get a good follow up exam. I am getting a CT scan in a couple of days so they can see exactly what it looks like and then a biopsy. Hopefully it's early enough to get rid of it.

Post 3

@bluedolphin-- White and red lesions, thickening of the tissue, soreness are some symptoms. I think some people also have issue swallowing or have a feeling as though something is stuck in the throat.

The thing is though, these symptoms may not be noticed until later. Lesions can be difficult to spot, especially if one is not looking out for them. And soreness, pain, numbness may not occur till later.

Post 2

@ddljohn-- You're right. Do you know what the early signs and symptoms of tongue cancer are?

Tongue cancer is very scary because we can't speak without it. We can't even swallow or chew properly without it.

Post 1

I knew someone who had oral cancer including a tongue tumor. I think cancer started on the tongue and spread to the rest of the mouth and the jaw. In his case, the cancer was too advanced and chemotherapy and radiation wasn't enough. So a part of the tongue and jaw had to be removed. He was in the hospital for months because he could not eat on his own and had to be fed.

I urge people to look out for signs of oral cancer and see a doctor as soon as it occurs. Early diagnosis is very, very important. Especially those with an increased risk, such as those with cancer in their family and people who smoke need to be extra careful.

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