Malignancy of the tongue is referred to as tongue cancer. It usually develops in the squamous cells, which are flat and thin cells covering the tongue’s surface. This type of oral cancer affects the front two-thirds of the tongue while that affecting the back one-third of the tongue is considered as a type of head-and-neck cancer. Tongue cancer symptoms are more or less similar to those of other types of oral cancer, and its risk factors include the following:
- Smoking and tobacco use
Smoking and tobacco use is a major risk factor for tongue cancer. When the mouth is exposed to carcinogenic chemicals of tobacco during inhalation or while chewing tobacco products, there comes a change in cells that develop oral cancer. Therefore, quitting tobacco is a great way to decrease the risk of tongue cancer symptoms. The risk starts decreasing soon after you quit smoking.
- Alcohol abuse
Excess alcohol consumption is associated with the development of tongue cancer. Heavy drinkers are more prone to tongue cancer symptoms. There is nothing wrong with having an occasional glass of wine, but having more of hard liquor on a regular basis is certainly harmful. Reducing your alcohol consumption and a regular examination of the mouth is advised.
- The Human papillomavirus
Oral sex is another risk factor for tongue cancer. Many experts believe that the Human papillomavirus (HPV) transmitted through oral sex results in tongue cancer symptoms and other types of oral cancer. It is also believed that this particular risk factor is going to overtake tobacco use as the main cause of mouth cancer in next few years.
Most people with HPV never develop any symptoms or health problems. Some do get HPV infections that tend to go away on their own within two years without affecting a person’s health much. On the other hand, HPV infections sometimes get serious and cause a number of health problems.
Although a controversial risk factor, mouthwash with high alcohol content is also considered as a risk factor for tongue cancer. This is why experts ask people not to use mouthwash more than twice a day. However, this risk factor is a dicey one.