What are the First Symptoms of Tongue Cancer?

By Max. D Gray. Updated: March 25, 2022
What are the First Symptoms of Tongue Cancer?

Tongue cancer is not the most common of cancers, however it has a bad prognosis, killing almost half of individuals it affects. Oral and tongue cancer usually occur in active smokers and drinkers and by a certain strain of Human Papilloma Virus infection. However, over the years the statistics have shown a steady increase in this cancer. More common in men than in women, this disease has a good prognosis if it is detected on time. It is therefore important to know what the first symptoms of tongue cancer are, especially if you find yourself in the at-risk group. At oneHOWTO, we will explain the symptoms in detail.

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Steps to follow:

Smokers, especially those who smoke a significant amount of tobacco per day and drink alcohol often, are at greatest risk of tongue cancer.

Those who suffer from frequent mouth ulcers as a result of poor hygiene or dental problems (loss of teeth, dentures in poor condition) also run a high risk of suffering from tongue cancer because these ulcers can become cancerous lesions over time.

Increasingly, mouth cancers are the result of an HPV infection. HPV is a virus with many different strains, and is responsible for genital warts and some types of cervical cancer. This virus is usually spread to the mouth through oral sex.


The appearance of ulcers or sores that take a long time to heal is one of the first symptoms of tongue cancer,. These lesions are often painful, so it is important to pay attention to them.


Another of the first symptoms of tongue cancer is the appearance of a small- or medium-sized red or white blemish on any part of the tongue. In the areas where it is not possible to see the blemish, it is possible to feel it when rubbing the tongue against other parts of the mouth, such as the palate or cheeks. Not all blemishes are tongue cancer so it is important not to panic if you find one on your tongue.


Pain and discomfort on the tongue or in the throat when chewing or swallowing is another possible indicator of tongue cancer. Remember that these symptoms are rather general, so before going to see a doctor, we recommend exploring your mouth making use of a small light to check for marks or lesions.


As a result of ulcers and lesions, it is normal that another of the first symptoms of tongue cancer is bad breath, which is caused by these types of wounds. The smell tends to be so strong that the patient often notices a peculiar taste in their mouth, similar to the taste you have when you have tonsillitis.


Any lesion that has become an ulcer on your tongue, and that still hasn't healed after a couple of weeks, must be checked out by a doctor to rule out any anomaly. This is particularly important if you find yourself in the at-risk group for tongue cancer.


It is important that if you have several of these symptoms, or if you suspect you might have tongue cancer, that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. If the tumour is detected on time, it can be removed more easily. On the other hand, if the tumour is detected in a later stage, it can result in severe complications and spread to other areas, such as the throat or the larynx.

You can read our articles on what to eat if you have cancer and what are the symptoms of bone cancer if you want to learn more.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What are the First Symptoms of Tongue Cancer?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What are the First Symptoms of Tongue Cancer?
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