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What Causes Large Bumps On The Back Of Tongue?

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Posted on Fri, 16 Jan 2015
Question: Hello. I've had large bumps towards the back of my tongue for at least 4 years . I had my first physical in at least 10 years this week and the doctors response was, wow they're huge. Not very comforting. I have an appointment with an ENT on Monday . I'm Scared to death. The doctor told me it can be nothing but it can also be cancer. I was so shocked that I forgot to tell her that I've had it for years. I'll be 31 on the ENT appointment and have been smoking for over half my life. The fact that its been there for years makes the possibly for it being cancerous greater or slimmer.?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty (8 hours later)
Brief Answer:
lingual thyroid or hypertrophied lingual tonsils.

Detailed Answer:
Hi

Thanks for posting the query. I do understand your concern; I'll try my best to help you with this problem.

I would like to reassure you that with the description you have given, I doubt any cancer. There are no cancers in the oral cavity which can be present for years without any symptoms. Tongue being a highly vascular organ, the cancer spreads very fast, hence I doubt it to be cancer.

I can confidently say, the swellings noticed behind the tongue could be either hypertrophied lingual tonsils or lingual thyroid. An ultrasound of the neck and video laryngoscopy can aid in diagnosing the problem. Consult an apt ENT Specialist for a complete examination and evaluation.

Finally, I would like to request you to reduce your smoking or stop it completely if possible.

Hope I have answered your query; I'll be available for the follow up queries.

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Bhagyalaxmi Nalaparaju
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty (2 hours later)
The bumps are on the tongue itself towards the back. ..I've attached a picture of one of them . As far as I can see, I have about 4 or 5 of them with one being on the left side corner of my tongue...towards by back teeth. None are perfectly lined up together. can they be swollen taste buds? What are the risk/remedies for the conditions you've mentioned? Are there any other possibilities? Not sure if it helps , but my thyroid blood results came back normal within the range . Thanks
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Hypertrophied taste buds cannot be ruled out...examination required...

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXXXXX

Thanks for writing back and posting the picture.

I am sorry! I am unable to see the backside of the tongue in the image you have posted.

The probability of hypertrophied taste buds cannot be ruled out. A thorough examination of the oral cavity can help us understand your situation better.

There is no treatment for hypertrophied lingual tonsils or lingual thyroid, as both of these conditions are normal variants. They are not harmful to your body. Get an ultrasonography of the neck done to look for absent thyroid.

Do not worry! I do not see any major problem in you. I wish you good luck and good health.

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Ashwin Bhandari
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty (41 minutes later)
Here's a clearer shot . I apologize. ...i dont mean to beat a dead drum. It's just been very stressful and my md wasnt very descriptive or too helpful . Had the physical on monday and the ent appointment is this coming up monday, so it has felt like an eternity. had some orange juice so thats why the tongue is yellowish . Thank you
doctor
Answered by Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
I would still stick on to my diagnosis of lingual thyroid or lingual tonsil

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Welcome back

I have gone through the picture. The mass is a globular structure and is in the midline, without any ulceration over the surface. I still believe that this may not be cancer.

Even though, you are having a history of smoking and presence of mass in the throat for more than 4 years and in the absence of any of the following symptoms of base-of-the-tongue cancers, it rules out the latter.
1. Pain.
2. Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing).
3. Weight loss.
4. Referred pain in the ear secondary to cranial nerve involvement.
5. Difficulty in mouth opening secondary to pterygoid muscle involvement.
6. Fixation of the tongue that is caused by infiltration of the deep muscle.
7. A mass or swelling in the neck.

I would still stick on to my diagnosis of lingual thyroid or lingual tonsils. A CT Scan or ultrasonography of the neck can confirm the diagnosis.

Hope this clears your doubts.

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Ashwin Bhandari
doctor
Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Dr. Naveen Kumar Nanjasetty

Otolaryngologist / ENT Specialist

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 2517 Questions

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What Causes Large Bumps On The Back Of Tongue?

Brief Answer: lingual thyroid or hypertrophied lingual tonsils. Detailed Answer: Hi Thanks for posting the query. I do understand your concern; I'll try my best to help you with this problem. I would like to reassure you that with the description you have given, I doubt any cancer. There are no cancers in the oral cavity which can be present for years without any symptoms. Tongue being a highly vascular organ, the cancer spreads very fast, hence I doubt it to be cancer. I can confidently say, the swellings noticed behind the tongue could be either hypertrophied lingual tonsils or lingual thyroid. An ultrasound of the neck and video laryngoscopy can aid in diagnosing the problem. Consult an apt ENT Specialist for a complete examination and evaluation. Finally, I would like to request you to reduce your smoking or stop it completely if possible. Hope I have answered your query; I'll be available for the follow up queries. Regards Dr. Naveen Kumar N ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon