Tongue Cancer Symptoms

What are some of the most common tongue cancer symptoms?

  • A sore on the tongue that does not heal
  • Pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away
  • A white or red patch on the tongue that does not go away
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • Trouble moving the tongue
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • Unexplained bleeding from the tongue
  • Ear pain
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling and trouble swallowing saliva
  • Difficulty breathing and speaking

All of these tongue cancer symptoms can also be symptoms of many other less serious health problems. Having one (or many of them) does not necessarily mean that you have tongue cancer, although it could be an indication that you do or are at a high risk of developing tongue cancer.

I have some of these tongue cancer symptoms. What should I do now?

If you exhibit one or more of these tongue cancer symptoms and they persist for more than two weeks you should have them diagnosed and treated by a doctor or dentist. If your general doctor or dentist suspects any areas of concern he or she will refer you to a specialist for a more thorough exam and specialized tests.

If the dentist or doctor spots a potential pre-cancerous spot on the tongue he or she will first perform an exam of your entire mouth. During this thorough exam the doctor or dentist will check the roof and floor of your mouth, the back of your throat, the lymph nodes in your neck, the inside of your cheeks, your lips and the top, sides and underside of your tongue. He or she will be looking for red or white patches, lumps, swelling or any other unusual problems. The doctor may then use special dyes, lasers or another kind of special light to determine if the spot is possibly cancerous and if a biopsy is necessary. A biopsy must ultimately be taken and then be examined by a pathologist to determine if a spot is cancerous or not. Depending on the result of the biopsy your doctor may discuss with you the possible tongue cancer treatment options.

CLICK HERE for more information on your tongue cancer treatment options.

Are you having a biopsy on a possible cancerous spot?

Here are some questions recommended by the National Cancer Institute to ask your doctor or dentist if he or she is going to perform a biopsy on your tongue.

  • Why do I need a biopsy?
  • How much tissue do you expect to remove?
  • How long will it take? Will I be awake? Will it hurt?
  • How soon will I know the results?
  • Are there any risks? What are the chances of infection or bleeding after the biopsy?
  • How should I care for the biopsy site afterward? How long will it take to heal?
  • Will I be able to eat and drink normally after the biopsy?
  • If I do have cancer, who will talk with me about treatment? When?

Want links to more information on tongue cancer symptoms?

Our area dedicated to Tongue Cancer Resources will connect you to additional sites and articles with tons of information on tongue cancer symptoms.

For more information on tongue cancer and tongue cancer symptoms visit our other pages filled with info on many areas of the disease and links to other sites with additional studies, articles and research.


Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed January 4, 2012.

What you need to know about oral cancer. National Cancer Institute. Accessed January 8, 2012.

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    All content on this site is for general information purposes only. It is not and should not be considered medical advice or used in place of the advice of a medical professional. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other professional for any medical condition.