Detecting Tongue Cancer
The key to treating any form of cancer is early detection. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if they’ve persisted over a few weeks, schedule an appointment with your dental care provider, who will perform an examination. They will likely perform or order a biopsy, where a small amount of tissue is taken from the part of the tongue where cancer is suspected. They will send this tissue to be examined by a pathologist, who will help make the diagnosis.
Your doctor or dentist may also recommend other detection methods, such as an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan, to determine the diagnosis. A CT scan is used to identify the tumor's size, shape, and location and whether the cancer is growing into nearby tissues, including the lymph nodes in the neck or lungs. An MRI is also used to detect whether the cancer has spread and is especially helpful for tumor staging and to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Your doctor may also recommend an endoscopy, which is used to get a closer look down your throat and into your lungs. If your doctor can't determine the cause of your symptoms, he may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.