Head and Neck Surgery Center
ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

A Guide To The Stages Of Tongue Cancer And Treatments

Tongue cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the cells near your tongue. This type of cancer is often caused by smoking or chewing tobacco but it can happen to anyone. It’s more common in males than females. The two most common types of tongue cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and verrucous carcinoma. It is sometimes found as a result from human papilloma virus, which can be contagious through bodily fluids or skin contact with a person who has it. There are also people who have an increased risk for developing this cancer due to hereditary factors.


How is Tongue Cancer Treated?

Tongue cancer is typically treated with surgery to remove cancerous tissue. If the cancer has grown deep into the mouth, it may require cutting part of the tongue or jawbone to get all of the tumor. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also two main types of treatment for people with advanced cancers.


Understanding the Stages of Tongue Cancer

Tongue cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lining of the mouth or throat. It can also spread to lymph nodes, cervical glands, and other parts of the body. There are 4 stages of tongue cancer:

  • Stage 0 (in situ): The cancer is not present in the cells but is only in the basement membrane, the connective tissue that surrounds them;
  • Stage I: The cancer has grown into the tissues around it and may be in one to two layers deep in the tongue;
  • Stage II: The cancer has grown into three or more layers in depth in the tongue and may have grown into surrounding tissues;
  • Stage III: The cancer has grown through three or more layers and has spread to organs such as lymph nodes or muscles around your head.


Treatment Options for Stage 1, 2 and 3 Tongue Cancer

Treatment options for stage 1, 2 and 3 tongue cancer are determined by the number of lymph nodes affected. For stage 2, 2-3 lymph nodes should be removed while for stage 3, all lymph nodes should be removed.


Treatment Options for Stage 4 Tongue Cancer

The tongue is made up of tissues that secrete fluids or food. The cancer cells can invade these tissues to form a tumor that blocks the ability to swallow or breathe. Stage 4 patients are likely to experience bleeding in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and pain. Treatment options for this stage include:

  1. surgery,
  2. radiation therapy,
  3. chemotherapy,
  4. palliative care (lifestyle changes),
  5. clinical trials (experimental drugs).


Side Effects Of Surgical Removal Of Tongue Cancer

The side effects of surgical removal of tongue cancer can vary depending on the extent and location of the cancer. For some people, speech therapy and physical therapy may be prescribed to help with swallowing and speaking after surgery.



In conclusion, the study found that if a person is diagnosed with tongue cancer and they go through radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, their chances of surviving are much higher. There are many treatments for tongue cancer, but the best way to treat it is prevention. Be careful about what you eat, drink, and smoke. Minimize your contact with chemicals and radiation.


Did you find the information useful? If so, continue reading our ENT posts.


For details of our ENT services, diagnosis, and treatment, please consult our ENT specialist.



HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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