ChandraVeer Singh, a consultant otorhinolaryngologist, and head and neck onco surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road successfully treated a 24-year-old woman with stage IVA tongue cancer via complex surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. The patient who was unable to talk, eat or swallow due to a 4.5 cm ulcer located right lateral border of the tongue can even sing her favourite songs with ease now. Patients may lose their entire tongue if the cancer is not tackled at the right time with appropriate treatment, stay vigilant.
24-year-old event manager Reshma Shah (name changed), a resident of Mira Road in Thane district. who had an ulcer, mouth pain, inability to talk, eat or swallow for over 4 months during the lockdown. The patient visited various big hospitals and tried many home remedies like applying honey on the ulcer, having aloe vera juice but nothing seemed to provide her relief. As time passed, the issue accelerated further, which disrupted her daily routine. However, the patient was referred to Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road wherein she got a new way of life.
Dr ChandraVeer Singh, a consultant head and neck onco surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road 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.”
Tongue cancer can be termed as a type of mouth or oral cancer, seen in the cells of the tongue leading to tumours or lesions. It occurs due to tobacco consumption and smoking, alcohol, sharp teeth causing ulcers, an iron deficiency anaemia than other nutritional deficiencies. Moreover, it can spread to the lymph glands of the neck. “There is a surge in the number of tongue cancer patients. Around 5-6 complex cases of tongue cancer have been treated at Wockhardt Hospital,” highlighted Dr Singh.
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.”
Tobacco chewing, smoking, or consumption of alcohol in any form should be avoided to prevent this cancer. Oral hygiene should be followed, and sharp teeth that can cause ulcers need to be addressed by the dentist.
“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. While attending online meetings I would remain silent as I would think that I may become a butt of a joke. Even my family members couldn’t understand what I wanted to convey. 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. I cried and spent some sleepless nights thinking of that. Now, I am alright, able to eat solid foods comfortably and my speech quality has also improved. I have started singing my favourite songs again. I am really thankful to the doctors at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road for saving my tongue. I have pledged to give up on alcohol and smoking. Do not ignore any signs like ulcer or mouth pain, and just seek timely intervention,” said elated patient Reshma Shah (Name Changed).