There are several different tongue cancer treatments available, but three common treatments are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. A patient may also undergo rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery if it becomes necessary to correct face disfigurement or lack of tongue function. One of the tongue cancer treatments, chemotherapy, uses the administration of anti-cancer drugs to try and stop the cancer from growing. Radiation therapy uses radiation to eradicate cancer cells. A doctor may also use surgery to remove tumors from the tongue and surrounding areas.
Chemotherapy is one of the more common tongue cancer treatments. Chemotherapy includes the use of anti-cancer drugs that seek to eliminate cancer cells by inhibiting their division. Since a cancer cell is a cell that divides uncontrollably, chemotherapy can be used to help to reduce tumors. The drugs are often given intravenously or orally.
The potency of chemotherapy drugs can lead to several side effects. One of the most notable is hair loss. Hair loss can occur because the drug does not just target cancer cells but all rapidly dividing cells. Blood cells formed in the marrow also rapidly divide, and so a person may also experience a reduced resistance to infection as the drugs attack developing white blood cells. Other side effects often include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Another of the various types of tongue cancer treatments is surgery. Surgery can be used to remove tumors from the tongue and surrounding areas, as well as any lymph nodes that have been affected. In some forms of surgery, a doctor can use a robot to assist in the removal of the affected structures or tumors. Surgery can be severely invasive, sometimes requiring the splitting of the jaw and opening the neck. Other forms of surgery are less invasive and allow a surgeon to remove tumors through the mouth.
Radiation, another of the different tongue cancer treatments, can be used in conjunction with both chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation therapy uses different forms of high energy to irradiate and kill cancer cells. For example, X-rays and radioactive substances are often used. Radiation therapy can be used before or after surgery in order to shrink tumors or kill cancer cells. The treatment can also be used by itself to treat cancer.