• tongue cancer;
  • young patients;
  • survival



Tongue cancer is seen with increasing frequency in young individuals. There is controversy concerning the clinical course and outcome for oral tongue cancer in young patients.


A retrospective review of 36 patients under 40 years of age with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue was performed. These patients were matched to an older population. The 5-year disease-free survival; rates of local, regional, and distant failure; and rate of second primary tumor were determined for both populations.


The 5-year disease-free survival for the young patients was 62% versus 69% in the older population (p = .30). Ten of 36 (28%) of younger patients recurred locally versus five of 36 (14%) of the older patients (p = .11). Nine of 36 (25%) younger patients recurred regionally in the younger group versus six of 36 (17%) patients in the older group (p = .25). Sixteen of 36 (44%) of the younger patients had locoregional failure versus eight of 36 (22%) of the older patients (p < .05). The rates of metastatic disease and second primary lesions were similar in both populations.


In this series, younger patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue had a higher rate of locoregional recurrence rate than did older patients. This did not translate into a survival difference. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Head Neck 20: 363–368, 1998.