A 24-year-old woman with stage IVA tongue cancer was successfully treated via complex surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Tongue cancer is a type of mouth or oral cancer involving the cells of the tongue leading to tumours or lesions. Various factors including smoking and tobacco consumption, alcohol use, ulcers caused by sharp teeth and iron deficiency anaemia are linked to development of tongue cancer. The cancer can spread to the lymph glands of the neck. If the cancer is not tackled at the right time with appropriate treatment, patients may lose their entire tongue.

Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai is seeing a surge in the number of tongue cancer patients. “Around 5-6 complex cases of tongue cancer have been treated at Wockhardt Hospital,” said Dr ChandraVeer Singh, a consultant otorhinolaryngologist, and head and neck onco surgeon, at the hospital.

The latest case is a 24-year-old woman with stage IVA tongue cancer, who was successfully treated via complex surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.

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Stage IVA tongue cancer: Symptoms and treatment

Reshma Shah (name changed), an event manager and a resident of Mira Road in Thane district, had a 4.5 cm ulcer located right lateral border of the tongue, because of which she was unable to talk, eat or swallow and had mouth pain. She was having these symptoms for over 4 months during the lockdown.

“While working from home, I noticed an ulcer that prevented me from eating spicy foods and had to eat bland food. I was petrified when there was mouth pain, slurred speech, and inability to swallow and eat. My voice changed, and people would not understand what I want to say. I love singing and couldn’t sing my favourite songs due to the ulcer and pain.

My world came crashing down after the diagnosis of tongue cancer as it was an unknown entity for me. I thought I will end up losing my entire tongue, and never will be able to speak again,” said patient Reshma Shah.

Before the diagnosis, the patient tried many home remedies like applying honey on the ulcer, having aloe vera juice which provides her no relief.

As time passed, the issue accelerated further, which disrupted her daily routine. Finally, she was referred to Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road wherein she was successfully treated by Dr Singh.

Dr Singh said, “On arrival, the patient came with complaints like mouth pain, inability to eat, talk or swallow, and 4.5 cm ulcer located right lateral border of the tongue. Her biopsy of ulcer, MRI, X-ray, and CT scan investigations revealed cancerous growth was on the tongue which extended to the lymph nodes of the right side of the neck. The ulcer infiltrative lesion arising from ventral surface of the tongue to the entire floor of the mouth, involving almost the entire anterolateral two-thirds tongue and not abutting the mandible in the entire length.”

In order to halt the spread of cancer, the patient was scheduled to undergo Hemi glossectomy with FRAFF, followed by 35 cycles of radiotherapy and 6 cycles of chemotherapy.

“The surgery involved the removal of half of the right side of the tongue and adjacent tissues and reconstructive surgery is carried out to restore speech, swallowing and normal appearance. A skin grafting is done on replaced the tissue removed during surgery. The Hemi glossectomy with frat and reconstruction procedure where whole surgical procedure completed in 5 hours. She was discharged after 6 days and she could eat, speak and swallow properly. She was found to be alright on follow-ups,” Dr Singh added.

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Seek timely intervention

Following the treatment, Reshma is now able to eat solid foods comfortably and her speech quality has also improved, and she can even sing her favourite songs with ease.

“Do not ignore any signs like ulcer or mouth pain, and just seek timely intervention,” said elated patient Reshma.

Dr Singh advised people to avoid tobacco chewing, smoking, or consumption of alcohol in any form to prevent tongue cancer. In addition, he said, oral hygiene should be followed, and sharp teeth that can cause ulcers need to be addressed by the dentist.


This post first appeared on The Health Site

Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by shalw

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