A tongue mass refers to an abnormal growth or lump on the tongue. These masses can vary in size, appearance, and characteristics. While many tongue masses are benign (non-cancerous) and relatively harmless, some may be indicative of underlying medical conditions, including potentially serious diseases such as oral cancer.
Tongue masses can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Benign tumors: Benign tumors are non-cancerous growths. Common benign tumors of the tongue include lipomas, fibromas, and hemangiomas.
Malignant tumors: Malignant tumors are cancerous growths. The most common type of malignant tumor of the tongue is squamous cell carcinoma.
Infections: Infections, such as abscesses and canker sores, can also cause tongue masses.
Injuries: Injuries to the tongue, such as bites and burns, can also cause tongue masses.
The specific symptoms of a tongue mass can vary depending on its cause. Common symptoms associated with tongue masses may include:
Visible lump or growth on the tongue
Pain or discomfort
Altered taste or difficulty with speech
Swelling of the tongue
Changes in tongue color or texture
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To diagnose a tongue mass, a healthcare provider will typically perform a thorough examination of the mouth and tongue. Additional diagnostic procedures may include:
Biopsy: If the mass is suspicious, a small tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken for laboratory analysis to determine whether it is cancerous or benign.
Imaging: X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be used to assess the size and extent of the mass, particularly if cancer is suspected.
The treatment of a tongue mass depends on its cause.
Benign masses may not require treatment if they are not causing discomfort or functional issues. Some benign growths may be surgically removed if they interfere with normal tongue function or are aesthetically bothersome. If a tongue mass is cancerous, treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches.
It's important to seek prompt medical evaluation if you discover a tongue mass, especially if it is persistent, painful, or rapidly growing.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be crucial, particularly when oral cancer is a concern. Regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings are essential for detecting and addressing potential issues in the early stages.