Based on the report by the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 45,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Of these 45,750 newly reported cases, only 57% will be alive in 5 years.  The mortality rate of oral cancer is higher than the other common cancers we hear about every day. If we expand the definition of oral cancer to include cancer of the larynx, the number of diagnosed cases increases to 54,000 individuals and approximately 13,500 deaths per year in the United States.

Cancer of the tongue is another form of oral cancer that begins with the cells of the tongue. In general, this condition usually starts in the scaled, thin, flat cells lining the surface of the tongue.


Oral cancer represents one in every twenty cancers affecting the body. Usually, people are unaware of its existence and during dental checkups, professionals do not always check the tongue and mouth. The problem with this cancer is the high level of mortality that occurs when this issue is not detected in time. The main causes of oral cancer are associated with the use of tobacco and alcohol but hereditary factors are also a factor. And increasingly, this issue is associated with the Human papilloma virus (HPV), which has a profound effect on prognosis and treatment.

When cancer develops on the sides of the tongue, is easier and quicker to detect and treat. When it occurs in the throat or at the base of the tongue, it is usually diagnosed at a more advanced stage when the tumor has already spread to vital organs or tissues.

The common treatment involves surgery to remove the tumor. X-rays, chemotherapy and pharmacological therapies are other recommended treatment options. Recommendations from the Medical Oncologist will depend on the progress and type of cancer.

The symptoms of cancer of the tongue are very similar to the symptoms of other types of oral cancer. This can be confused with a persistent cold or sore in the mouth. Other symptoms we can highlight are:

-Persistent pain in the tongue, throat or jaw.

-Lumps or swelling on the inside of the mouth

-White or red patches on the gums or other areas of the mouth

-Difficulty to swallow or chew

-Difficulty to move jaw or tongue

The treatment for advanced cancers of the tongue can affect the ability to speak and eat. For this reason it is recommended to work with a professional rehabilitation team after surgery.

Remember these important steps:

-When faced with any symptoms or doubts, consult with a doctor for proper diagnosis!

-Maintain great oral health!

-Avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol.

I hope this information has been very useful! See you soon!