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What are the first symptoms of tongue cancer?
Typically, the first signs of tongue cancer include a lump or spot on the tongue that fails to go away. But other common symptoms can include:
- A sore throat that doesn’t go away
- A sore spot (ulcer) or lump on the tongue that doesn’t go away
- Pain when swallowing
- Numbness in the mouth that won’t go away
- Pain or burning feeling over the tongue
- Problems moving your tongue or speaking
- A lump in the neck
- Unexplained bleeding from the tongue (that’s not caused by biting your tongue or another injury)
- Pain in the ear (rare).
If you or someone you know experiences any of the above signs, it is important to contact your GP or a medical professional, who will be able to complete the correct tests and determine whether it is tongue cancer or not.
If a tumour is at the base of the tongue, it may be difficult to see in the early stages, so it is often diagnosed when the tumour has grown. Oral tongue cancer can affect the teeth, or bleed when brushing or eating, so is more easily diagnosed.
Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, revealed that in the past there has been a dramatic rise in this form of cancer, particularly among younger individuals. This is supported by recent studies of 1,316 patients with oral cancer, 57 percent of which were HPV-16 positive.