Generally, there are three different options for the treatment of tongue cancer that doctors can use alone or in combination. First, doctors determine a diagnosis and complete a full pre-treatment evaluation. Then they suggest a ‘course of treatment’ for their patients. At that stage, they verify whether or not ‘cancer’ has spread to other regions. Based on the condition the treatment options will depend on the patient’s condition.
Treatment Options For Tongue Cancer
If a doctor decides that it is not possible or safe to proceed with Surgery, almost always complete surgical removal of the tumor is the first treatment for tongue cancer; Doctors commonly treat Tongue cancers with a type of Surgery called a glossectomy.
‘Patients and their care teams’ have to discuss the types of surgeries required to treat ‘their cancer. The location of the cancer and the stage of disease surgery leads a doctor to recommend the procedure. The type of reconstruction required depends on the extent and location of tongue resection. Doctors will determine it. The impact of the procedure will affect speech and swallowing. They will also allow the doctor to predict such an impact.
Radiation is one of the most common processes for tongue cancer treatment options. One of the best is adjuvant Radiation, which is Radiation given after Surgery to decrease the chances that the tumor will return.
‘Let Us Know ‘Reasons’ For Post-Surgical Radiation
A doctor may recommend ‘post-surgical radiation’ in the following few scenarios.
- If they did not completely remove the tumor,
- if there are positive ‘cancerous surgical margins,.’
- If the doctors determine the type of cancer as aggressive or a high grade or T-stage.
- If cancer had spread to lymph nodes or other structures, such as nerves or vessels.
Sometimes, there are impossible, unsafe chances of complete surgical removal of tongue cancer. A doctor may recommend radiation therapy. It is the primary treatment. In the treatment, doctors detect an external radiation beam at the tumor and recommend destroying ‘the rapidly dividing’ ‘cancer cells.’
Doctors do not commonly use Chemotherapy to treat tongue cancer. It is an additional treatment following Surgery. They sometimes combine it with ‘radiation.’ They usually add ‘Chemotherapy’ only to adjuvant radiation therapy if there is an extranodal extension from cancerous lymph nodes in the neck or cancer left behind during Surgery.
And General Treatment Options for Tongue Cancer
The said options depend on T and N stages.
The preferred treatment is the surgical removal of cancer, with or without neck dissection, depending on the tumor’s location and thickness.
- It is a sentinel lymph node biopsy (a procedure to remove and examine the sentinel lymph nodes, the first lymph nodes. They generally spread as cancer cells. Depending on the biopsy results, the treatment may move to a neck dissection.
Doctors follow Radiation before Surgery sometimes. It depends on the result of the primary Surgery. We must know the need for additional Surgeries and Chemotherapy with Radiation.
- A primary treatment option is Radiation also. Surgery could follow Radiation. It depends on the result if ‘any disease’ remained after the ‘initial radiation.’
‘T1-3, N1-3; T3, N0; or T4a, any N’
Surgical removal of cancer with neck dissection(s) is the initial treatment.
The first step is Radiation. Then doctors conduct Surgery sometimes. Additional surgeries and/or Chemotherapy with Radiation depend on the outcome of the primary surgery.
Some factors will guide additional treatment. They are:
- Positive margins ( It is a state of the existence of cancer cells at the edge of the tissue which doctors resect).
- If we notice the spread of cancer beyond the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Tumors of T3 or T4 based on ‘pathologic evaluation.’
- ‘N2’ or ‘N3’ condition in the neck lymph nodes.
- Cancerous lymph nodes in unusual neck parts.
- Tumor attack into or around nerves (perineural invasion).
- Tumor invasion into blood vessels (lymphovascular invasion).
Patients With T4b, Any N3, Unresectable Neck Disease, Are Unfit For Surgery
In very advanced cases where the patients are extremely sick, they should have an extensive discussion with their doctor to consider the possibility of palliative therapy or hospice care.