Tongue cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the tongue and can cause lesions or tumors on your tongue. It’s a type of head and neck cancer.

Tongue cancer can occur on the front of the tongue, which is called “oral tongue cancer.” Or it may occur at the base of the tongue, near where it attaches to the bottom of your mouth. This is called “oropharyngeal cancer.”

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of tongue cancer. This type of cancer occurs:

  • on the surface of the skin
  • in the lining of the mouth, nose, larynx, thyroid, and throat
  • in the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts
What are the symptoms?

In the early stages of tongue cancer, especially with cancer at the base of the tongue, you might not notice any symptoms. The most common early symptom of tongue cancer is a sore on your tongue that doesn’t heal and that bleeds easily. You might also notice mouth or tongue pain.

Other symptoms of tongue cancer include:

  • a red or white patch on your tongue that persists
  • a tongue ulcer that persists
  • pain when swallowing
  • mouth numbness
  • a sore throat that persists
  • bleeding from your tongue with no apparent cause
  • a lump on your tongue that persists