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Tongue Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to tongue cancer. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Skin lesion, lump, or ulcer on the tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Mouth sores and mouth pain
  • Numbness or difficulty moving the tongue
  • Change in speech (due to inability to move the tongue over the teeth when speaking)
  • Pain when chewing and speaking
  • Bleeding from the tongue


Tongue cancer may be detected by your dentist during a routine dental cleaning, or by your doctor during a routine physical exam.

To confirm diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. This may include:

  • Examination of your tongue for lumps or masses
  • Use of a fiberoptic scope—a thin tube with a tiny camera to examine the base of the tongue
  • A tongue biopsy —removal of a sample of tongue tissue to test for cancer cells
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the mouth
  • Chest x-ray to determine if the cancer has spread to the lungs

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Tongue Cancer Guide


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