Cancer » Tongue Cancer
Tongue cancer is a kind of oral cancer and comes under the category of head and neck cancers. Males are more prone to the cancer as compared to females. India reports the maximum number of cases of this cancer with almost 9 out of every 100,000 persons being infected by the disease. In the United States, the rate of cancer of the tongue is 2.5 per 100,000 persons.
Understanding tongue cancer
Cancer of the tongue is one of the important forms of head and neck cancer and may develop at any age. It is a leading type of oral cancer and males are more prone to the disease as compared to females. Tongue is a vital organ of the human body and enables a person to taste and chew food properly. It also helps a person to speak clearly and pronounce correctly. It is also one of the five most important senses of human beings.
Formation of cancer cells in the tongue or the adjacent areas may severely hamper the speaking and eating abilities of a person. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most general type of cancer of the tongue. In this type of cancerous infection, malignant cells initially invade the squamous cells located on the outer layer of the tongue and penetrate deeper as the intensity of the disease increases.
Tongue cancer develops in a gradual but consistent manner. The malignant cells invade the healthy cells and tissues and force them to behave abnormally. Tissues play a vital part in efficient supply of oxygen, blood and other necessary resources to various parts of the body for systematic growth of cells. Smooth supply of all these resources gets severely affected with the invasion of malignant cells.
The cancerous cells kill vital tissues and prevent their redevelopment. Also, they force the normal cells to behave abnormally and bring about an uncontrolled and unnatural division and growth of cells. Also, the old cells are restricted from dying naturally. This leads to a considerable increase in the number of unnecessary cells in the body. These excess cells accumulate in a particular area and form a lump. This lump is commonly called as tumor and has a tendency to metastasize. Intensity of the disease increases with the spread of tumors. The tumors may develop and spread rapidly or gradually depending upon the immune system of the victim.
Tumors can be of two different types as benign and cancerous. Cancerous tumors are the main culprit of the spread of cancerous cells as they have a high tendency to metastasize. They spread to other organs and form tumors in the areas they infect. Bloodstream and lymph node are the main carriers of such malignant cells. Such tumors are usually difficult to treat completely and may redevelop even if cured previously. Detection and diagnosis of the cancerous tumors in the initial stages can be advantageous in treating them without any major side effects to the body. Biopsy, endoscopy and ultrasound are some of the common techniques adopted worldwide to detect the nature and severity of tumors.
Benign tumors are other important kind of tumors that develop due to abnormal pattern of cell division and growth. These tumors are usually non-destructive and do not carry the risk of metastasis. They develop gradually and restrict themselves to a specific area. These tumors are generally removed by way of surgery and do not exhibit any tendency to regenerate. However, prolonged ignorance to benign tumors can be risky. Cancerous cells may primarily invade the cells located in the benign tumors and spread to other areas later. Cells present in the benign tumors have less resistant power as compared to other live cells. Such weak cells provide a condition suitable for fast generation of cancerous cells. Hence, it is equally necessary to take benign tumors seriously.
How to prevent tongue cancer?
Tobacco chewing is the major cause of cancer of the tongue and must be strictly avoided. Smoking also contributes to development of malignant cells by weakening your body internally and making it more prone to infections. Excess consumption of alcohol must be avoided. Person who has been previously treated for head and neck cancer is highly prone to this disease. Also, family history of the cancer may put a person at a slightly higher risk. Presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) is another important cause of the cancer and may put the person at a considerably high risk. Avoid sex with multiple partners and lead a safe sexual life to avoid HPV infection. Balanced diet with sufficient inclusion of salads, vegetables and fruits will benefit in keeping your immune system intact.
Tongue cancer is more common in persons above 40 years of age and the risk of being prone to the disease increases with age. Computed tomography scan (CT) and X-rays are some of the basic techniques to detect the presence of tumors. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is also recommended in a few cases where a thorough examination of body is essential.
Tongue plays an important part in giving you the sense of taste. Hence, any unusual alteration of taste must be diagnosed urgently. Pain in the tongue, formation of lumps on the surface or adjacent areas of the tongue and uneasiness in speaking and pronouncing words are some of the early symptoms of the development of tumor. Also, swelling or ulcers in the tongue that doesn't get cured by normal medication must be examined thoroughly. Tongue bleeding and unusual cracks in the tongue are some other indicators of the disease. In some cases, the tongue may also get thick and heavy, resulting into difficulties in the easy and smooth movement of tongue.
Tongue cancer is a kind of mouth cancer which may affect the overall oral cavity severely and can also spread to other areas of head and neck. Surgery is the most common form of treatment along with treating the tumors with chemicals (chemotherapy) and radiations (radiotherapy). Opt for a particular treatment after thorough consultation with experts.