Tongue Cancer & Smoking

Did you know that tongue cancer affects as many as 5,000¬†smokers every day in the United States? According to the International Oral Cancer Association, this statistic doesn’t even begin to shed light on the vast numbers of people suffering from this form of oral cancer worldwide. Oral cancer can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Bringing awareness to this type of oral cancer is the first step in reducing the number of fatalities that occur every year.

Early Detection

Tongue cancer is something that can be treated when caught early. One of the best ways to detect oral cancer in the early stages is by visiting your dental provider on a regular basis. When many people hear the word cancer, they automatically assume that only a medical doctor can make a diagnosis. In the case of oral cancer, this isn’t necessarily true.¬† In fact, most physicians will rarely do an oral exam unless you notice something is wrong.

This is why it is extremely vital to visit your dental provider. During a routine cleaning they will examine your whole mouth to check for abnormalities or changes since your last visit. Some symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Sores or lumps on the tongue
  • Foods taste different than before
  • Numbness
  • Red or white patches that may form in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Pain
  • Enlarged tongue

Causes of Oral Cancers

Typically lifestyle choices play a large role in the development of the cancerous condition. For instance, heavy drinkers and tobacco users are often prime candidates for developing this devastating condition. However, like with most cancers, there are other reasons that cancerous cells may develop. For instance, individuals that develop the Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection may be more likely to be diagnosed with tongue cancer. Gender is also thought to play a role with the majority of tongue cancer patients being men.

Your chances of developing tongue cancer can be reduced by making certain lifestyle changes such as reducing excessive alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products. A healthy diet that includes recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables can also create healthy cells in your mouth, reducing your chances of being diagnosed with tongue cancer.

Individuals should also avoid engaging in oral sex with numerous partners to circumvent being infected with HPV. When acclaimed actor, Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010, promiscuous, oral behavior was thrust into the limelight, increasing awareness of just how dangerous indiscriminate oral sex practices could be.


As with most cancers, tongue cancer is treated with a variety of different methods, depending on the severity of the diagnosis. Most people will be treated using one or more of the following methods:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

In some cases, individuals may also receive physical therapy, in conjunction with the above mentioned treatments, to help them eat, talk, and swallow if these functions have been compromised due to the treatment.

Tongue cancer is a highly treatable condition. Men and women diagnosed with tongue cancer are typically able to resume normal lives after treatment with little or no complications.