Introduction: Oral cancer is a prevalent malignancy and, due to frequent mechanical stimulation, the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue ranks first among neoplastic cancer cases and continues to increase.
Objective: To analyze the literature on the characteristics of tongue cancer, particularly its epidemiology, etiology, classification, diagnosis and treatment.
Methodology: For the literature review, it was performed with electronic exploration by search engines such as: PUBMED, SCOPUS and Google Scholar, with the keywords "Tongue cancer, incidence, etiology, epidemiology, classification, diagnosis, and treatment", based on a specific selection regarding the dates of 2015-2022.
Results: The incidence of tongue cancer occurs in the posterolateral portion, with 66% of tongue carcinomas, while, in the ventral and anterior side, in 20%. Its etiology as a fundamental factor for the appearance of tongue cancer are heavy smoking and alcohol consumption, which have a synergistic effect. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) classification provides the tumor-lymph node-metastasis (TNM) staging system as a resource for physicians. Diagnostic studies should include a clinical examination, along with biopsy studies, surgery and computed tomography of the neck. The most popular treatment is surgery combined with postoperative radiotherapy and chemotherapy are of choice.
Conclusions: The occurrence of malignant neoplasms in the tongue is becoming more common every day, so it is important to perform recurrent clinical examinations in patients who smoke and consume alcohol, for early detection and to provide a better diagnosis and treatment to the patient.