Surgical management of tongue cancer during pregnancy

Auris Nasus Larynx. 2012 Aug;39(4):428-30. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Sep 1.


There are ethical dilemmas in managing head and neck cancers during pregnancy. Diagnostic and treatment modalities need to be carefully determined. We herein describe 3 cases of tongue cancer during pregnancy. The details of the management would contribute to the daily practices for head and neck cancers. All three patients were Japanese female patients, two of them were 29 years old and one was 26 years old. All patients were admitted to the Nippon Medical School Hospital during pregnancy, complaining of oral pain and/or discomfort. Case 1 was diagnosed as tongue cancer stage T3N0M0, however, the tumor was superficial and controllable by partial glossectomy. Case 2 was stage T2N0M0 with deep invasion with ulcer, and the hemi-glossectomy with neck dissection and the reconstruction was thought to be the standard modality. However, she underwent partial glossectomy in order to reduce the stress of the fetus. Case 3 could not be diagnosed on admission by biopsy and she underwent partial glossectomy after delivery. In case 3, the pathological diagnosis was pT1 tongue cancer. In case 1 and case 3, the patient and baby were healthy. In case 2, however, the patient died of recurrence at the primary site. In decision making of the strategy, the most important factors are not only oncological evaluation but also ethical and emotional factors.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Female
  • Glossectomy
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neck Dissection
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / surgery*
  • Tongue Neoplasms / surgery*