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

Tongue Cancers: Can It Be Prevented?

Tongue cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that affects the tongue. This type of cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells on the surface or inside the tissue that lines part of the mouth, which includes the skin inside the mouth, gums, and lining of the mouth.

The five-year relative survival rate for tongue cancer depends on its stage. If the cancer has not spread beyond the tongue, the five-year relative survival rate is 78%. If the cancer has only spread locally to lymph nodes in the neck, the relative survival rate is about 63%. If it has spread far, the five-year relative survival rate is about 36%. It is clear that the tongue cancer can be treated with early diagnosis.


Be sure to watch out for symptoms such as the following:

Symptoms of tongue cancer may include pain, difficulty swallowing, or red patches in the white part of the mouth. It usually takes years for these symptoms to appear, which is why it’s important to be aware of them and discuss them with your ENT doctor when they do.

Prevention is better than cure. Hence, it’s important to know what your risk factors are in order to prevent it or detect it early on if you do develop symptoms.


What causes the tongue cancer and who’s at risk?

The following behaviors and conditions can increase your risk of the tongue cancer:

  • smoking or chewing tobacco
  • heavy drinking
  • being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • chewing betel
  • family history of tongue or other mouth cancers
  • personal history of certain cancers, such as other squamous cell cancers
  • poor diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • constant irritation from jagged teeth or ill-fitting dentures

Tongue cancers are most common in people over 55 years old.

Prevention of tongue cancer

You can reduce your risk of tongue cancer by avoiding activities leading to tongue cancer, and by taking care of your mouth. They include:

  • stop using tobacco
  • avoid drinking excessive alcohol
  • don’t chew betel
  • get a full course of the HPV vaccine
  • avoid oral sex
  • include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • make sure brushing your teeth daily and floss regularly
  • see your dentist regularly


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,

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