Tongue Cancer Diagnosis

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Doctors may prefer ample number of techniques to diagnose your cancer. Stages of cancer can be judged on basis of proper tongue cancer diagnosis. They conduct certain tests that show the presence of cancer cells at various sites during the metastatic stage of cancer. Some tests also help to decide the appropriate treatment option that will prove most effective for the patient. Tongue cancer diagnosis begins with a systematic physical exam and review of medical history. For most forms of cancers, biopsy is the only method that gives definitive diagnosis of cancerous tumors. If undergoing biopsy is not possible, then your doctor may suggest some more tests and diagnosis options that will help to get the confirmation of cancer cells. Imaging tests are also considered to be beneficial to understand the extent of cancer spread.

Factors that Influence the Tongue Cancer Diagnosis

Your doctor may look for certain aspects that really influence the selection of diagnostic test:

  • Overall health, medical condition and age of the patient
  • Severity of tongue cancer symptoms
  • Type and location of tongue cancer
  • Result of previous test( if any)

Range of Tests Used for Tongue Cancer Diagnosis

Following are the various test options believed to be helpful to diagnose oral, oropharyngeal or tongue cancer in patients:

Physical examination:

Tongue Cancer Diagnosis Doctors or dentists usually discover the oral or tongue cancer during routine medical checkup. If an individual reveals some signs of tongue or oral cancer, the doctor will ask for their entire medical history, about the risk factors and the noticeable symptoms. The doctor will check out for the lumps in the cheeks, lips, gums and neck. Since a person with oral or tongue cancer is at higher risk of developing cancer in other nearby areas like neck, head, the area adjoining nose, larynx, the lymph nodes around the neck, these areas are also examined by the physician .


In this process, a small part from the infected tissues is taken to examine under the microscope. Other tests can show the presence of cancer, but biopsy is the only method that gives assurance of cancer development. The sample of cancer cells are taken with the help of a fine needle and this sample are analyzed under the microscope.


In this method, a light weighted, thin, flexible pipe attached with lens and light at the tip is inserted into the oral cavity and throat to examine the cancerous tumor. This tube can be inserted through the nose as well, to examine the neck and the head. In this examination, the patient may be provided with anesthetic spray in order to make it a painless examination. If endoscopy shows any suspicious cells, then the doctor may perform biopsy for the confirmation of cancer.

Oral Brush Biopsy:

This is a new technique, in which the doctor uses a small brush to take the sample of the cells from the suspicious area. This method is pain free and can be performed within a couple of minutes. This method is followed by rational biopsy for confirmation. Imaging techniques


X-ray is an image of the internal structure of the oral cavity taken by using radiation technique.


This is a panoramic or rotating X-ray technique that is used to examine the lower and upper jawbones to detect the damage due to cancer development.


Sound waves are used to create an image of the internal structures in the oral cavity. This test is helpful to detect the spread of cancer cells in the surrounding lymph nodes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI:

Magnetic field is used instead of X-rays, to get the detail image of the abnormalities developed in the soft tissues. A contrast medium may be used to get a clear image.

Barium Swallow:

This test is performed in two ways. In the traditional technique, the patient is asked to swallow barium in liquid form, so that the doctor can identify the changes as the liquid passes into the stomach. In the modified technique, the patient is asked to swallow the barium coated cracker, pudding or barium in liquid form. This can also be termed as videofluoroscopy. Both these techniques are followed by X-ray.

Computed Tomography or CT scan or CAT scan:

Both these techniques are helpful to get a three dimensional image of the body. This helps to view the tumors or other abnormalities. Positron Emission Tomography or PET scan:

This technique is used to create images of the tissues and organs inside the body. A little quantity of radioactive substance is injected into the body of the patient. The tissues and organs in the body absorb this substance for getting energy, since cancer cells absorbs more radioactive energy. A scanner is used to detect the substance and get the images of the interior body structure.

All of these tongue cancer diagnosis techniques are followed by biopsy for confirmation. If they suggest that cancer cells are present, then further steps are taken to treat the cancer.

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