A 45 year old woman was referred by her GP after the patient had noticed a white patch on her lateral margin of the tongue. Patient had never smoked and consumed only small amounts of alcohol (2 units) during the week, though not regularly. The patch had been noticed 3 months previously and remained asymptomatic. A predominantly white plaque with a slightly raised surface measuring 2.5 cms in its longest diameter was noted at presentation to the specialist. No neck nodes were palpable. An urgent biopsy revealed a microinvasive carcinoma.
Notes: This is a very early lingual carcinoma arising from the surface epithelium. There are two important points in this patient’s history. She being a young person and had never smoked. Though squamous cell carcinoma is rare to find in a white patch this case illustrates this possibilty. The affected area was excised with a clear margin. The patient was fortunate that her tongue cancer was diagnosed early, without any delay.
[Photo supplied by Prof Warnakulasuriya]