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Tongue cancer can arise from what harmless sores on your tongue. The symptoms indicative of tongue cancer are a pain in the tongue, hoarseness of your voice, and difficulty while swallowing. These symptoms could perhaps lead to tongue cancer if not thoroughly examined. So, instead of fearing tongue cancer, you should try to educate yourself about it.
You can certainly prevent the occurrence of tongue cancer by adopting healthy changes in your lifestyle. However, it can be very difficult if you are addicted to certain things like tobacco as well as alcohol. But the choice is yours! You can either increase your risk of tongue cancer by remaining addicted or live a healthier life by getting rid of these addictions.
When you quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake, you reduce the chances of tooth and gum disease which lead to tongue cancer. There are various harmful chemicals in tobacco which increase your risk for tongue cancer. Alcohol leads to the formation of plaque in your teeth which are responsible for tooth decay and subsequently tongue cancer.
It is also important that you pay attention to oral hygiene and devise a routine program of visiting the dentist. Poorly maintained jagged teeth as well as dentures causes sores which persist and eventually lead to more dangerous consequences like tongue cancer.
Whether it is abstaining from alcohol or tobacco or visiting your dentist regularly, these are simple measures which you can follow to ensure you are not a victim of oral cancer. You can reduce hospitalization expenses by buying Health Insurance
There are various symptoms that you are likely to experience which are indicative of tongue cancer. They are:
When you experience pain in or near your tongue find out if there are any sores or ulcers on your tongue. If these sores or ulcers are bleeding and are persisting over a long period of time, these are warning signs for tongue cancer. You need to consult your doctor immediately.
When you sound hoarse and there has been no infection that you are suffering from which has resulted in this, it could be a symptom of tongue cancer. An examination on an urgent basis needs to be carried out to rule out tongue cancer.
When you have difficulty with swallowing or dysphagia, you need to visit the doctor to rule out the possibility of tongue cancer.
There are various habits which are responsible for mouth cancer. You need to be aware of these causes and make the lifestyle changes necessary to ensure you don't have mouth cancer.
There are various poisonous chemicals in tobacco like tar, lead, benzene, nicotine, and so on. Nicotine is an addictive drug and is the most harmful. It is one of the major reasons for mouth cancer.
Smoking results in the weakening of your immune system and therefore you lose the ability to fight against cancer cells. It also damages the DNA in your cells. When you quit smoking, you reduce the risk of having mouth cancer to half.
Regular intake of alcohol also puts you at a risk of mouth cancer. Heavy drinkers experience mouth sores, tooth decay, and gum disease. It is considered to be the second largest risk for oral cancer.
Alcohol can cause the greater development of plaque on your teeth and your chances of tooth loss are three times higher than normal. When you add citrus products like lemon to your drink, it may lead to erosion of your tooth enamel.
Jagged teeth result in oral wounds that persist for long periods of time. You tend to get persistent ulcers or wounds on the tongue, and this increases the risk of having mouth cancer.
When you don't take care of your teeth and gums you are susceptible to infections of the gum as well as tooth decay. Both these are major reasons for mouth cancer. With poor oral hygiene, you develop plaque on your teeth which can lead to this disease.
Therefore, it is important to brush your teeth twice daily with a good toothpaste, floss between your teeth daily, get your teeth checked regularly by the dentist, abstain from chewing tobacco and drink alcohol in moderate quantities.
Tongue cancer can be diagnosed by your physician in the following ways:
Your lips and mouth will be examined for any abnormalities by your doctor or your dentists like irritable sores or white patches (leukoplakia).
If there is an area which your doctor feels is suspicious, the cells from that area might be removed for sending to the laboratory for testing. This procedure is called a biopsy.
Different techniques are used for removal of unusual cells. The most common methods applied are using a scalpel, scissors or some other surgical tool. The cells are tested in the laboratory to analyze for any cancer or precancerous signs.
The mode of treatment for your tongue cancer would depend on the location of cancer as well as the stage, your general health and any addictions you might have.
A single type of treatment may work for you or you might need a combination of treatments. Your treatment would include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery.
As far as surgery is concerned, options include:
Surgery is used to cut the tumour as well as part of the healthy tissue around the tumour to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed. The type of surgery would depend on the size of the tumour. For example, for a large tumour, a part of your jawbone or tongue may need to be removed.
If cancer has metastasized to the lymph nodes of your neck or this is a result of the size of cancer, the cancerous lymph nodes and local tissues in the neck would require removal. Dissection of neck leads to removal of cancer cells that have metastasized to the lymph nodes.
Reconstructive surgery of your mouth may be required to rebuild your mouth and enable you to eat or talk. Skin, muscle, or bone grafts from other parts of your body could be used to reconstruct your mouth. Your natural teeth may be replaced by dental implants.
As with any other medical procedure, there are risks of bleeding and infection. Your appearance and your ability to eat are altered.
You might require a tube for eating, drinking, or having your medicine. A tracheostomy tube might be used temporarily to help you breathe.
You might be referred to specialists post-surgery who will help you get back to your normal self.
High energy beams like X-rays or protons are used to eradicate cancer cells in radiation therapy.
When your mouth cancer is in the early stages it can be cured with radiation therapy alone. In more advanced cases, it may be combined with chemotherapy.
During advanced stages of mouth cancer, radiation therapy provides symptomatic relief from pain.
You will need to see your dentist before radiation therapy as unhealthy teeth may need to be removed. This is so because fatigue, jaw stiffness, bleeding gums, mouth sores, jaw bone damage, tooth decay and dry mouth are side effects of radiation therapy.
Chemicals are used in chemotherapy to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy may use single or multiple drugs and can be used in combination with other cancer treatments. Sometimes chemotherapy is used with radiation therapy for better results.
You could experience hair loss, vomiting as well as nausea.
As the name suggests, targeted drug therapy 'targets' and alters the particular attributes of cancer cells that lead to their growth. Head and neck cancers are treated with Cetuximab. There are certain proteins that are found in high quantities in cancer cells and lower quantities in normal cells and Cetuximab negates the action of such proteins. Targeted drug therapy is also used in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Although prevention of tongue cancer is not easy, you can reduce the risk of developing tongue cancer by following some simple measures:
The best option for any addiction is keeping away from it. The second best option, in case you are addicted to tobacco, is to stop it immediately! Tobacco taken in any form, whether it is smoked or chewed, puts the cells in your mouth in immediate danger. Tobacco has cancer-causing chemicals which increases your risk of tongue cancer.
Another addiction which makes you prone to tongue cancer is alcohol. If you haven't started it, it's well and good. If you are a regular drinker, cut down your intake of alcohol and keep it to a moderate level.
You can reduce the risk of having mouth cancer by ensuring that your diet has an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have high levels of antioxidants as well as vitamins which act as a shield against tongue cancer.
You can prevent excessive sun exposure to your lips by staying in the shade as much as possible. There are hats with a wide brim that protect your entire face as well as your mouth from the sun.
Be very disciplined with the application of sunscreen based lip products as part of your overall strategy towards sun protection.
When you visit your dentist as part of your regular dental exam, ensure you ask the dentist to examine all the parts of your mouth for any areas of abnormality that could be an indication of mouth cancer or a sign of precancerous changes.
Your recipe for a healthy life starts with good oral hygiene. There are some simple measures like regular brushing or flossing to keep you free of any diseases that could lead to tongue cancer. Kick out your bad habits like smoking and excessive drinking today.
Are you ready for better oral hygiene?
Disclaimer: The tips & exercises suggested are the personal opinions of the writer. Kindly consult a licensed physician/dietitian/practitioner before implementing the same.
The survival rate for tongue cancer depends on the extent to which cancer has spread, your level of fitness, eating habits, age as well as stage. If the cancer is in the early stages (0, I and II) then your 5-year survival rate is 78%. However, if it has spread locally to the neck lymph nodes, then the survival rate comes down to 63%. If however, it has spread far (stages III and IV), then the survival rate falls to 36%.
Tongue cancer is curable provided the detection has been done in the early stages. You have a higher chance of being cured if the cancer is restricted to the tongue. If it has spread locally to the lymph nodes, the chances of curing it are less. Whereas if it has spread to distant organs, then chances of cure fall dramatically to below half the rate of first stage cancer.
Treatment success with oral cancer, like any other cancer, depends on the stage. If your cancer is diagnosed at stage 0, then your chances of complete cure are very high. However, you need to follow up with your doctor. The Treatment option here is surgery.
Radiation therapy by itself or combined with surgery is used when you have stage I and II oral cancer.
When your cancer advances to stage III or IV, then your survival chances are not that high as cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. Treatment at these stages is palliative which helps you get symptomatic relief.
Cancer cells can be of two types, high grade as well as low grade. The high-grade cancer cells grow fast whereas the low-grade cancer cells grow slowly. Around 5% of oral cancers are slow growing (low grade) and they are called 'verrucous carcinoma', a type of squamous cell carcinoma.
Yes, cancer on the tongue can be cured when it is detected at an early stage and the extent to which it has spread. The part of the tongue affected also determines your chances of cure.
The early signs of tongue cancer are the appearance of red and white patches on the lining of the tongue or mouth, non-healing sores or mouth ulcers, pain or soreness in the throat while swallowing, the sense that something is stuck in the throat, painful tongue, hoarseness of voice, difficulty with movement of jaw or tongue, neck or ear pain, loose teeth, swelling that does not abate for more than three weeks, lump in the mouth, the lining of the mouth becoming thicker or problems with dentures not fitting properly.
Your chances of surviving oral cancer would depend on the type as well as the location of cancer, stage of cancer, the rate of growth, and the extent to which it has spread, your age, your general health, the right treatment decision as well as how well cancer responds to treatment.
Yes, there are possibilities of tongue cancer coming back or recurring. There are some cells that remain hidden even after treatment, eventually developing into a tumour. When it occurs at the original site, it is a 'local recurrence'. If it is found in the neighbouring lymph nodes it is known as 'regional recurrence.' If it is found in the bones or lungs, it is called a 'distant recurrence.'
As far as the treatment options for tongue cancer are concerned, doctors go for surgery, palliative treatment, targeted therapy, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In the case of surgery, the tongue is partially or fully removed and extensive reconstruction is performed thereafter. The various treatments can be done individually or in combination. Any treatment is most effective if surgery is performed first.
Tongue cancer is rare for people below the age of 40 as well as those who do not use tobacco or drink alcohol. It generally occurs to the section of the population over the age of 60.
Cancer on the base of the tongue is caused by the human papillomavirus. Other probable causes of tongue cancer are tobacco use, alcohol use, jagged teeth and poor dental hygiene.
There are various self-examination methods for tongue cancer. Extend your tongue and examine the upper surface for texture and colour. Try to see if there are any swelling or differences in colour on either side of the tongue. Find out if there are any abnormalities on the underside of your tongue by putting the tip of your tongue against the roof of the mouth. Examine the floor of your mouth and the underside of the tongue for colour changes. Press the underside of the tongue with your finger to see if there are any swellings or lumps.
The 5-year survival rates of tongue cancer depend on the extent of metastasis. If cancer has remained in its original site, then the rate is 84%. Where cancer has metastasized to the nearby lymph nodes the rate is 64%. Where cancer has spread further, the chances of survival are 39%.
Testing for mouth cancer involves a physical exam as well as removing a tissue for testing.
During the physical exam, the lips and mouth will be examined for any abnormalities, sores or white patches which are causing irritation.
If anything suspicious is found, a cell sample will be removed by the doctor for testing in a laboratory. This process is called a biopsy. Removal of unusual cells is achieved with a scalpel, scissors or other surgical instruments. The cells are analysed at the laboratory to see whether they are cancerous or precancerous.
Though pain is present before or during the treatment of mouth cancer, it becomes critical during the advanced stages.
The first signs of mouth cancer are a non-healing sore, a bleeding sore, the lining of your mouth or skin showing signs of thickening, lump or growth, loose teeth, dentures with poor fit, tongue pain, stiffness or pain in the jaw, difficulty or pain with chewing or a sore throat.
Tongue cancer primarily spreads to the neck's lymph nodes before moving to other areas. In the secondary level, it can spread to the lungs. When it spreads to the lymph nodes it is known as locoregional metastasis and when it spreads to the lung as well as other organs it is known as distant metastasis.
Yes, mouth cancer can be cured naturally through the following remedies:
Antioxidants cause apoptosis. Apoptosis is an anti-hormonal, anti-inflammatory which enhances immunity and results in arresting the cell cycle as well as cell differentiation. It prevents the proliferation or development of cancer cells.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant providing vitamin A which is found in yellowish, orange or dark green fruits and vegetables. These include oranges, papaya, mango, sweet potato, carrots and spinach.
Retinoic acid, which is vitamin A, can be found in eggs, milk and meat is another antioxidant.
L-ascorbic acid is Vitamin C and is present in citrus fruits such as mango, papaya, strawberries and kiwi. It prevents damage to the DNA as well as cellular proteins.
Spirulina is a microalgae which is blue-green in colour and contains antioxidants as well as beta-carotene. It helps improve the immune system and combat cancer.
Green tea has anticarcinogenic (prevents cancer development) properties and can help in the cure of mouth cancer.