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What is a Tongue Tumor?

By Ken Black
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A tongue tumor is a growth that develops on the tongue and may or may not be cancerous. Fortunately, near the front of the tongue, because of the nerves and significant amount of feeling in that region, such tumors are usually noticed quickly. However, for tumors further back on the tongue, the discovery may occur much later in the process once the tumor has had time to grow significantly.

The most important thing to do once a person feels there may be a tumor growing on their tongue, or anywhere else on their body, is to have it checked by a medical doctor. These professionals are the only ones who can make a certain diagnosis, especially determining whether you may have tongue cancer or mouth cancer. A tongue tumor can be a serious problem and will likely need some type of treatment.

Most medical professionals consider the tongue to be divided into two parts, the oral tongue and the base tongue. The oral tongue is the front part of the structure -- the part that you can move. The base of the tongue lies at the very back of the mouth and is not movable. A tongue cancer on one part of the tongue is very much different than the cancer on the other part of the tongue. If the tumor turns out to be a malignant tumor, it is usually squamous cell cancer, but other varieties are also possible.

Squamous cell cancer of the oral tongue is treated by simply removing the tumor through a surgical process. If the tongue tumor is very large, it may require some speech therapy and perhaps some follow-up treatment. In most cases, this will not be required and the removal of the tumor will not affect any function of the tongue.

Squamous cell cancer of the base of the tongue is, in many cases, much more serious since the tongue tumor it is detected later. In many cases, it has already spread to nearby lymph nodes before patients notice any symptoms. The most common course of treatment is radiation, though it may also be possible to remove the tongue tumor by surgery.

Tongue tumor symptoms may be very different depending on where they are located. On the oral tongue, it may be nothing more than a simple bump on the tongue. Over time, if left untreated it may become tender and bleed very easily if irritated. On the base of the tongue, the tumor may lead to voice changes, create a sense of fullness or even lead to difficulty swallowing.

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Discussion Comments

By EarlyForest — On Sep 13, 2010

What are the signs of tongue tumors in dogs? My dog has a lump on her tongue, and she once had a sinus tumor before, so I'm afraid that she's got some sort of crazy cancer!

Can somebody help me out?

By pleats — On Sep 13, 2010

How often do tongue tumors happen in conjunction with other kinds of mouth tumors?

For instance, what is the comorbidity rate of tongue tumors with parotid cancer or a parotid (salivary) tumor?

By rallenwriter — On Sep 13, 2010

I really shouldn't read about medical conditions online, because then I convince myself that I've got each and every one of them.

Of course, but this time you'd think I'd know better, having convinced myself at times that I had a nose tumor, an ear tumor, and a neck tumor (I actually had none of the above). I just read the symptoms and get overly aware of any slight abnormality in my body!

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