Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer in the Base of the Tongue

The tongue is actually made of two different kinds of tissues: the "oral" part of the tongue at the front and the base of the tongue at the back. Since these tissues are different, the cancers that arise in them are different and require different treatment.

Furthermore, cancer in the base of the tongue is relatively rare, making it especially important to have a physician who is an expert in treating this particular kind of head and neck cancer. Cancer in the base of the tongue is usually treated with surgery and/or radiation and chemotherapy depending on the stage and type of cancer.

At the Stanford Cancer Center, Drs. Iris Gibbs, Quynh-Thu Le, Rachit Shah, David Terris, Willard Fee, and Don Goffinet are experienced in the treatment of patients with base of tongue cancer and have participated in research studying the long-term outcomes of different kinds of radiation therapy for the disease.

The base of the tongue plays an important role in speech and swallowing, therefore expert Cancer Center speech and swallowing therapists are integrated into therapy early on to help patients rapidly regain function and adapt to anatomical changes that may occur with treatment.

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