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Tongue Cancer Symptoms

Oncology doctorTongue cancer symptoms vary from person to person depending on the specific type of cancer, where the cancer is located, and how far it has progressed. In many early-stage tongue cancers, symptoms may be nonexistent or easy to overlook. However, if the cancer begins to spread, symptoms generally become more severe, potentially interfering with the individual’s ability to chew, swallow, or speak.

Some of the most frequently reported tongue cancer symptoms include:

  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away (typically defined as lasting longer than six weeks)
  • A lump or ulcer (sore spot) on the tongue that doesn’t go away
  • A persistent white or red patch on the tongue that can’t be rubbed off
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Persistent numbness of the mouth
  • Bleeding from the tongue without a known cause
  • Ear pain

Many of these tongue cancer symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so it’s important for a physician to perform diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy or imaging test, to determine if the symptoms are in fact linked to cancer. If a tongue cancer diagnosis is made, patients may work with several specialists to coordinate a treatment plan. Approaches differ depending on the severity and spread of the cancer; early-stage cancers may only require surgery to remove the tumor and careful monitoring afterward. In other cases, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy might be required to remove or kill cancer cells.

At Tampa General Hospital, our team of ENT oncology specialists can treat tongue cancer and its related symptoms using advanced imaging and treatment technologies. To find a physician, use our PhysicianFinder tool or call (813) 844-2200.