Tongue cancer is known to cause lesions or tumours on the tongue and may occur on the front of the tongue which is known as oral tongue cancer or it may occur at the base of the tongue which is known as oropharyngeal cancer. Experiencing pain in the ear could signal cancer of the tongue.
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There are several types of cancer which affect the tongue, but tongue cancer most often begins in the thin, flat squamous cells that line the surface of the tongue explained the Mayo Clinic.
It continued: “The type of cells involved in your tongue helps determine your prognosis and treatment.
“Where your tongue cancer occurs also affects your treatment and can occur in the mouth where it may be seen and felt.
“It can also be seen in the throat at the base of the tongue, where tongue cancer may develop with few signs and symptoms.”
Tumours on the base of the tongue are usually larger when diagnosed because in the early stages the tumour is difficult to see said Cedars Sinai Hospital.
It added: “The only early symptoms are ear pain.
“Voice changes and difficulty swallowing occur later.
“Because base of the tongue cancer is diagnosed later, the cancer may have already spread to the neck.
“The affected lymph nodes frequently need to be removed.”
The symptoms of tongue cancer are similar to those of other oral cancers, and they may also not be evident in the early stages of the disease.
It’s possible a person to have some of the more common symptoms of tongue without having tongue cancer or another type of oral cancer.
Another lesser known warning symptom of the disease includes bad breath.
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As an oral cancer tumour outgrows its blood supply and forms an ulcer, bacteria could infect the sore, says Dr Mark Persky, a head and neck tumour management specialist.
He continued: “Those bacteria leave a foul smell that, unlike your typical morning breath, won’t go away when you brush your teeth.
“Plus, pain in the mouth might make it difficult to swallow.
“You build up bacteria in the mouth that typically get flushed out with swallowing.
“The bacteria that stay there are producing gasses that produce bad breath.”
Other symptoms to spot with tongue cancer include:
- Sore in the mouth or on the lip that does not heal
- Red or white patch on the gums, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- Lump on the lip, mouth, or throat or a feeling of thickening in the cheek
- Persistent sore throat or feeling as if something is stuck in the throat
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Numbness of the mouth or tongue
- Pain or bleeding in the mouth
If you have been experiencing ear pain or any of the other symptoms listed, it’s important to speak with your GP about the possible cause.
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