In Indian population, cancer of the tongue is a common and a major challenge for cancer specialists. As per reports nearly 30 % of all head and neck cancers detected in India constitute tongue cancers. Treating tongue cancer is associated with adverse effects on oral and pharyngeal function and this affects the quality of life. From treatment perspective, cancers of tongue are divided into two:
Cancer in the oral or mobile part comprises the front two-thirds of tongue.
The base of the tongue that consists of back third of tongue and called as oropharyngeal cancers.
The use of both smoked as well as smokeless tobacco is the most important risk factor for tongue cancers. In addition to these, the use of alcohol with tobacco has been shown to increase risk of cancer by several folds. The Human papilloma virus (HPV) is also suspected to have a role in tongue cancer particularly in non tobacco and alcohol users. Malnutrition or a diet lacking in vitamins especially A, C & E has been shown to be a predisposing factor. The use of areca nut alone (without tobacco), poor dental hygiene and sharp teeth are also implicated in the etiology of tongue cancers.
Treatment of Tongue cancer:
The treatment decisions for tongue cancer are conventionally based on the clinico-radiological stage and location of the tumor. The treatments for cancers of tongue in mobile part are treated slightly differently from that in the oropharyngeal. Early stage tongue cancer is usually treated with single modality therapy either surgery or radiotherapy, while locally advanced operable cancers are treated with combined modality therapy, surgery followed by postoperative radiotherapy or chemo-radiation.
Experience of MIO in treating tongue cancers
At MIO we have specialized in treating Head and Neck cancers and more specifically the cancers of the tongue that are very difficult to treat. In the first stage a panel of doctors discusses the treatment to be taken up on an individual case basis. The treatment may include surgery or radiotherapy and most of the time a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and chemo-irradiation depending on the tumor stage, location of the tumor and the patient’s general health condition. The most unique aspect of our treatment is the incorporation of brachytherapy effectively in causing complete remission of the cancer. Today we are one of the very few cancer centers in India to have been using brachytherapy for tongue and oral cancers. We have treated over 250 tongue cancer cases with brachytherapy as an effective treatment and the results have been extremely good when compared to without it.