Q:

How do you get tongue cancer?

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Quick Answer

Tongue cancer can develop from smoking, using tobacco, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or contracting the human papillomavirus, explains WebMD. In some cases, individuals get tongue cancer because they are genetically predisposed toward it.

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Full Answer

Tongue cancer, a form of oral or throat cancer, occurs on or near the tongue, states Mayo Clinic. If it starts at the back of the tongue in the throat, it is considered hypopharyngeal cancer. This cancer is harder to find and is generally diagnosed in its later stages. Because of this, large amounts of tissue have to be surgically removed, which in turn can affect speaking and eating.

Oral tongue cancer occurs on the visible part of the tongue, making it easier to diagnose, says Mayo Clinic. This cancer is usually caught and treated in the earlier stages. Usually the tumors are smaller and can be removed without as much damage.

Oral or tongue cancer is accompanied by swellings, bumps and other abnormalities on the tongue, according to WebMD. Other symptoms include strangely colored patches on the tongue and bleeding in the mouth. Cancer that occurs further back on the tongue can cause hoarseness and a sore throat. It can also make swallowing food difficult and painful.

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