Are Warts on Tongue a Symptom of Oral Cancer? Know the Truth!

Have you recently noticed any fresh-colored bump on your lips? Might be you are thinking that it is a cancerous wart. But does it actually is?

Warts are red or blood-colored bumps caused by HPV or Human Papillomavirus. They can appear on any part of the body, including the genital area. The worst part is they can transfer from one person to the other. Hence, it becomes essential to cure them as soon as they are being noticed.

Warts can appear on any body part, including the tongue. And when they occur on the tongue, they can be considered as oral cancer. However, you have to be sure that is it really oral cancer or an oral HPV.

Here’s what you must know about tongue warts.

Types of Tongue Warts

Tongue warts can occur because of varying strains of HPV. Some of the common types of tongue warts are:

  • Verruca Vulgaris – It is the most common type of tongue wart. Such a wart can develop on varying parts of the body. It mainly affects the hands but is common to the tongue as well. Such bumps are caused by HPV 4 and 2.
  • Squamous Papilloma – These warts appear like cauliflower lesions. They have a white-colored appearance and are caused by HPV strains 11 and 6.
  • Condyloma Acuminata – These kinds of lesions occur mainly in the genital area but can occur to the tongue as well through sexual contact. It is caused by HPV 11, 2 and 6.
  • Focal Epithelial Hyperplasia – This type of wart is also known as Heck’s disease. Such lesions occur because of HPV 32 and 13.

What Causes Tongue Warts?

Warts on the tongue may occur because of many reasons. The most common reason for having warts is sexual intercourse with an already affected person. If your partner is affected by warts on any part of the body, then even touch or kiss can transfer the disease to you.

Moreover, if you come in contact with a person suffering from a wart, like with your hands, and put your hand in your mouth, you can definitely develop a wart on the tongue. For instance, you bite your nails without washing your hands properly.

The other factors that put you at risk to tongue warts are:

  • A weak immune system
  • A scrape or cut

All these aspects offer the virus to enter into the body through the cuts or break in the skin.

Treatment for Warts on Tongue

If your wart is non-cancerous then it will go away without treatment. However, this may take months and years.

Usually, warts on the tongue are harmless. They can be but a nuisance. It depends on the wart size and whether it is painful or not. If the wart is painful, it can make things problematic.

It is therefore essential to speak with your dermatologist or dentist about appropriate treatment for wart.

Some common treatments for tongue warts are:

  • Cryotherapy – It is a process that involves the use of cold liquid nitrogen to freeze off and kill the abnormal tissue growth.
  • Electrosurgery – This is another option that involves the use of robust electric current for cutting the wart and removing abnormal tissues or cells.

Both these treatments work for distinct kinds of warts, which develop on the tongue.

Tongue Wart and Oral Cancer

As per the American Cancer Society, HPV 18 and 16 are the most common causes of oral cancer. 

Between these two, HPV 16 is highly associated with oral or oropharyngeal cancer. This is the cancer tissue of esophagus or throat. Around 1% of people suffer from this kind of cancer due to HPV.

The oral cancers caused by HPV vary slightly from cancer caused by smoking or other triggers. For oral cancers triggered by HPV, the virus converts normal cells of the body into cancerous cells, with the number multiplying each day. 

Not every HPV case can lead to oral cancer, but those met with it have higher chances of experiencing oral cancer. Hence, the Oral Cancer Foundation states that if your virus does not clears off from the body within two years, or you have met with it, get it diagnosed at once. 

Tongue Warts Prevention

There are some ways to prevent tongue warts. The most effective ones are as follows:

  • Get an HPV Vaccine – Receiving an HPV vaccination protects from genital and HPV warts. It also prevents the spread of warts to your partner.
  • Avoid Kissing the Person with Warts – You must not kiss the person suffering from warts. It is because kissing the person leads to transfer of the wart virus.
  • Don’t Pick or Touch – Avoid touching or picking your tongue wart. It can lead to spreading of infection.
  • Quit Smoking – As per research, the risk of oral HPV 16 is higher in people who smoke or consume tobacco products. 

Key Takeaway

 Tongue wart does not always require treatment and does not always mean oral cancer. Often, it resolves on its own but might take years. 

The HPV infection clears out without complications, but you must notify your doctor and get a diagnosed done for oral cancer if you notice one or more of the symptoms:

  • Continuous Sore Throat
  • Swelling or Lump in the Mouth
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Unidentified Hoarseness

If you have been experiencing tongue wart for many years, then immediately get a diagnosed done for oral cancer. If your diagnosis report confirms the existence of oral cancer, don’t panic, seek immediate treatment. Remember, oral cancer diagnosed at early stages can be treated and cured completely.

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