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Tongue Base Cancer

The base of tongue is actually part of the oropharynx, not the oral cavity. The oropharynx is part of the throat, which includes the tonsils, base of tongue, soft palate and posterior oropharyngeal wall.

Some doctors classify base of tongue cancer into the general category of throat cancer.

Like all head and neck cancers, base of tongue cancer (and oropharynx cancer in general) is often seen in older men who have a history of smoking and drinking. However, over the last decade doctors have been seeing more and more oropharyngeal cancers in patients who are younger, healthier and non-smokers. These patients often have large cancerous lymph nodes in the neck. When this happens, it is often associated with a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). Researchers are still figuring out the details about oropharynx cancer associated with HPV, but one thing is certain—it behaves quite differently than oropharyngeal cancers not associated with HPV. As a general rule, these patients have improved outcomes with current treatment strategies.1 Ang KK, Harris J, Wheeler R, Weber R, Rosenthal DI, Nguyen-Tân PF, Westra WH, Chung CH, Jordan RC, Lu C, Kim H, Axelrod R, Silverman CC, Redmond KP, Gillison ML. Human papillomavirus and survival of patients with oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jul 1;363(1):24-35. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912217. Epub 2010 Jun 7.

References

1 Ang KK, Harris J, Wheeler R, Weber R, Rosenthal DI, Nguyen-Tân PF, Westra WH, Chung CH, Jordan RC, Lu C, Kim H, Axelrod R, Silverman CC, Redmond KP, Gillison ML. Human papillomavirus and survival of patients with oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jul 1;363(1):24-35. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912217. Epub 2010 Jun 7.

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12 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2016. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2016. All rights reserved. Accessed December 7, 2016. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.nccn.org.

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18 Edge SB, et al. The AJCC Cancer Staging Manual – Seventh Edition. American Joint Committee on Cancer 2010.