I've been smoking for only a few years, and yes I am quitting right now.

A few days ago, I noticed a lump, about 1/2 an inch long, inside the left portion of my tongue.

It does not hurt, there is no discoloration, swelling, numbness or anything of the sort.

Other than the fact it is a lump, there is no indication that it could be cancer.

I've checked web sites extensively, and have found no mention of having any lumps inside the tongue, but on top of the tongue.

However, I am scared out of my mind, and my doctor's appointment is a few days away.

Any ideas?
Original Post
Hello Racheal
Soapbox It is always a good idea to stop smoking. Smiler

Look at Figs. 1.37 and 1.39 in Examination Technique with Normal Findings and Structures Mistaken for Disease for pictures of normal appearances. Some lumps seen at the back of the tongue are often part of the normal scenery.There are large bumps on the top surface of the back of the tongue called circumvallate papillae located along the "circumvallate line" and contain taste buds that confer the sense of sour and bitter to the back of the tongue. A lingual tonsil can also be quite prominent and are mistaken by patients for cancerous growths .

Hope that helps give you some peace of mind until your appointment.
Best wishes
Vinod Coffee
Last edited by drvinodkjoshi
What did your lump turn out to be?

I'm 36 and delivered my first child this past August. One week after delivery I noticed a pea sized lump in my tongue on the right side about 1/2 inch back from the tip. It was not painful. I saw my ENT doctor a few days later and he did not know what it was but wanted to wait a few weeks before biopsying it to see if it went away. It did not go away, but the size of it did change from day to day. Sometimes it was the size of a pea, sometimes it was smaller than a pea. There was no pain or visible lump, I had to use my thumb and index finger to press and feel it.

After a total of 9 weeks I went for the biopsy and it turned out to be a saliva duct. Some of the saliva was going back inside the duct as oppossed to being pushed out into my tongue. This was the cause for the lump to change in size. It was not cancer and they just removed the whole duct and some of the surrounding tissue.

My doctor is not sure what caused this, it could have possibly been the hormones from pregnancy or just a fluke thing. He does not think I'll have further problems.

I am not a smoker, but I have been a social drinker for years. I am very thankful that this turned out the way it did.
Hello Deanna

Lumps can arise in an upper or lower lip, cheek or tongue owing to an enlarged salivary gland. Most of us remain unaware of them until we start exploring the lip. These lumps could be related to chronic inflammation, or a salivary extravasation cyst caused by trauma (e.g. knock, lip-biting, etc). Occassionaly when damaged, saliva leaks into the tisue and gives rise to a mucous retention (or extravasation) cyst. A biopsy is usually done confirm and to remove it.

Best wishes
Vinod Coffee Coffee
Last edited by drvinodkjoshi
Hello everyone! Just like you MySpamAddress, I have noticed a lump the size of a pea inside the right portion of my tongue, just about half an inch from the tip of the tongue. And yes, in the mornings it feels 'bulkier'. I also press it with my teeth and that seems to decrease it's size, but pressing it too much also makes it painful. I went to an ENT and he told me that sometimes glands in the tongue get blocked and become bulky. Weeks have passed and I still have the lump and I'm getting bothered by it, even thought I don't have sympthoms that might indicate something serious other than the lump itself. In a previous post, a person experiencing the same condition was told that it was due to a salivary duct and that she had it removed. Could the surgery to move such lump cause other complications such as loss of taste or movement, swallowing problems, or even speech? Any feeback would be greatly appreciated.

Racheal, if you still read this message board, could you tells us what your lump turned out to be and how was it handled?

Deanna, could you tells us how the surgery went and if you experienced any complications such as those mentioned above?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Hi! I am so glad I found this site, because I was freaking out before I found you. Suffice it to say, about 2 weeks ago I discovered EXACTLY the same thing you guys have been describing. A small, pea-sized lump inside my tongue. I can feel it when I press my tongue between my fingers and the top of my tongue is every so slightly lighter pink where the bump is trying to protrude. It's on the left side of my tongue, about 1/2" to an inch from the tip, and it's inside--but definitely not along the side rim of my tongue. No other symptoms, discomfort, etc. I first noticed it when pulling a stray hair off my tongue--so I have no idea how long it was there before I noticed it.

I just had the biopsy this morning and I, too, am hoping it is an enlarged gland. It seems like we all have several key things in common--in terms of signs, symptoms, and location. And I have not read or found anything anywhere that described a case of tongue cancer beginning in this way. I'm a little nervous for the results but I'm feeling pretty optimistic that it is nothing serious. I will write back and let everyone know how my biopsy turned out.

Please let me know how each of you is fairing.
Well, I got the biopsy results back and... no one knows what this is. It was negative for any malignant cells and my ENT said that it hasn't proved to be a benign tumor either. The cells were unrecognizable. I asked if it could be a gland and he said that there are no glands in that part of the tongue--so I'm not sure which is correct.

All in all, he said that cutting the lump out would probably be worse than just leaving it be. He's going to check on it again in 6 weeks and he told me to monitor it--if it starts to get bigger it will have to come out. But actually, it seems to slowly be getting smaller.

A little disturbing to not know what it is, but as long as it's not malignant, I'm as OK with it as I can be. If it's still around in a few months, I think I may seek a second opinion, just to be on the safe side.
hi racheal. did you ever find out what the lump was? i've had mine for almost a year now and still don't know what is is. it's not painful, just bothersome to have a lump on my tongue.

the only possible thing i could attribute it to is smoking. when i inhaled, the smoke would hit the same spot on my tongue where the lump is now. i smoked socially when i was in college but have long since quit.

my doctor examined it and says it doesn't have signs of cancer. he doesn't know what it is and the only recomendation is to remove it.

just hoping someone had something definitive about what their lump was to help me make a better decision on what to do.....


I am having this problem, but mine hurts. Its on the right side and its really close to the tip. Ive had my tongue pierced, and I smoke. Im afraid. Any ideas??
Hello SuSuBa

You may not have a mouth cancer but you need to see a doctor or dentist to diagnose your problem.

Tongue-piercing is not a good idea as it can cause infections and the stud can damage the teeth. I have seen both. Smoking is also not a good idea. You need to decide if you really wish to take the associated risks. It is your call.

Best wishes
Vinod Coffee
i am experiencing the same thing as everyone else seems to here, i have the swelling INSIDE my tongue and it is about 1cm from the tip of my tongue. I went to the dentist who said it felt like fibrous tissue, but my symptoms seem identical to what other people on here have said. I have never smoked, am 17 years old, and i dont drink eccessively. dentist said dont worry, but gave me a referral to a oral surgery consultant. I am quite worried about what will happen next, and if i need surgery, whats it like???

quite scared, please get back soon

Hi Chris

First, find out what's actually wrong--it's probably not cancer, but DO go to the oral surgery consult.

Each of us has had varying levels of success with surgery, rt and chemo. I had a relatively easy time of it both immediately post-op and now, four and a half years later. The afflicted (left) side of my tongue was removed, along with the adjoining floor of my mouth, and replaced with a piece from my right forearm. From what I understand, the surgery was done through the incision that resulted from a modified neck dissection (done to remove lymph nodes for testing). I breathed through a trach for about a month and had a nasogastric tube for about that long; using my mouth didn't seem like a good idea so I didn't talk for most of that time. The 8 hour plus surgery wasn't exactly my ideal way to spend a Friday, but I'm quite glad that it happened.

I truly hope for the best for you, Chris--you're far too young for this SOB of a disease. Please let us know how the consult turns out.

Hi Chris,
I'm glad your dentist was quick to refer you to an oral surgeon. My dentist kept reassuring me that the lesion on my tongue was not cancer and said not to worry. 1 1/2 years later, I was diagnosed with stage 3 tongue cancer, if only it had been checked out when I first complained of it, I could have been spared aggressive treatment. I was neither a smoker or drinker. Please let us know the outcome.

Good Luck to you and Best Regards,
I'm a licensed oral surgery assistant and a registered dental assistant. I'm a 38 yr old female, non-smoker (although I smoked some during my late teens/early twenties), very light drinker (a few drinks/yr). I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, but otherwise healthy. 3 months ago I noticed the same/similar thing that many of you have described. A pea-sized lump inside my tongue, just to the right of the midline, about 1/2" from the tip. No discoloration or any other change on the surface. Mine IS painful, and that is one of the reasons I first noticed it. I kept running my tongue between my upper and lower teeth when I first noticed it, trying to figure out what it could be! I did it so much that I finally caused a small ulcer on the surface of my tongue, so I stopped, duh! Work has been really busy, so I never bothered mentioning it to my boss...the oral surgeon. I ignored it for weeks and the ulcer went away and the lump slightly decreased in size, so the pain improved a little bit to the point where I could ignore it. About 2 wks ago the pain started again and I became aware of it again, although it still didn't get as big as it originally was 3 months ago. I was at my routine dentist appt 2 days ago and mentioned it to my hygienist, who immediately had the dentist check it. He works closely with my boss, so he said I had to have it checked ASAP. Yesterday, my boss...the oral surgeon...checked it and couldn't believe I hadn't told him sooner! He said I can wait longer and see what happens with it, but since it's already been 3 months he strongly recommends a biopsy. He admitted it will be quite painful and there will be a lot of bleeding. I assist this type of surgery frequently, so I know exactly what he means. He strongly recommends IV sedation to do it so I don't have to try to relax my tongue while the assistant is pulling it out. He said he needs to make an incision on top of my tongue (not the bottom due to the nerves and blood vessels), remove the lump, then stitch up the layers with a fine dissolvable suture (4-0 or 5-0 chromic gut) in the muscle, and a fine non-dissolvable suture (4-0 vicryl)at the surface so it doesn't open prematurely. I will have to have those surface sutures removed after it heals. I will also take a round of antibiotics, pain meds, and use a topical anesthetic post-operatively. My surgery is scheduled for next week, and yes, I am quite nervous! That's probably why I'm adding more details than you want! I will try to post the outcome...
Thanks for listening!!
Hello Suzie

The biopsy will tell you what it is. It might not be anything serious. Good luck for next week. Let us know how you get on.

Best wishes

Here's an update to the biopsy. Sedation/surgery went well. It's 2 days post-op now and my tongue is quite swollen and firm, also a lot of bruising. The incision itself is fine, dissolvable sutures are there. Hard to eat since there is still some numbness and it's so enlarged. Couldn't keep taking vicodin since it made me throw up. Just taking ibuprofen every 6 hrs. If it gets past 6 hrs, it starts hurting a fair amount. I'll post biopsy results next week.
Dear Suzie,

Don´t even try to eat solids while your tongue is inflamed, but do indulge yourself with ice cream (NOT the citric flavours, though!)
I do hope the biopsy will reveal a benign kind of lump.

Good luck!
Biopsy results are good:

Diagnosis: Consistent with chronic sialadenitis

Micro Description: Sections reveal minor salivary gland lobules exhibiting patchy chronic sialadenitis and fibrosis. Regenerative changes are identified. Numerous neurovascular bundles are also seen. Ectatic vascular spaces are also identified. The presence of a subtle intramuscular hemangioma cannot be totally excluded. No surface mucosa is identified.

Comments: No evidence of malignancy is identified in the tissue submitted and examined.

So, that's good. The pathologist said this is very uncommon and wishes we had taken photos during the procedure since it's not well-documented. We photograph a lot of our big cases, but did not take any this time!

It's 4 days post-op now. Went to work today but had to limit talking. Still hypersalivating. Tongue is still quite swollen but getting better; bruising is much better. Still numb from tip of tongue down the center along the incision; that could last several weeks. Floor of mouth somewhat swollen and still having chin/lower anterior jaw/lower anterior teeth pain. Warm compresses and drinks. No cold foods/liquids after the first 24hrs at a surgical site since that slows down healing. Heat is necessary to keep adequate circulation and promote healing. Still on ibuprofen 600mg every 6 hours. Vicodin has been necessary for the lower jaw/chin/teeth pain, taken with food to help prevent nausea. The pain in that area is due to the lymphatic drainage from the tongue, from the inflammation and healing process, it drains below the tongue toward the chin then down the neck. A warm compress is helpful when it gets really painful.

Thanks for the feedback. Good luck to everyone else, and I hope someone else finds this beneficial in the future :-)

ps: thank you Shoshana for the positive thoughts!
Last edited by smrose
Hi, I too have a lump inside my tongue for at least 6 mos now. It is about the size of a pea but comes and goes. It is inside the tongue, rather than on the surface, on the left side about 1/4-1/2 from the tip.The odd thing is that it seems to get larger when I bend forward to pick something up off the floor. I went to see an ENT back in July and he could do nothing because I didn't have it while in his office. He told me it couldn't be cancer because cancer doesn't come and go, but he had no idea what it could be. He told me to try to take a picture of it or come back when I have it. Both are impossible because it wouldn't show up in a picture and it normally only lasts a few minutes. I'm unemployed and just got a bill for this consult for $275! What a rip-off, I wasn't there more than 10 minutes! I'm still concerned but not sure what to do. If I don't have it when I arrive at a Dr's office I'm wasting my time and money. Any ideas??
I am so glad I found this website/forum. I am having the same issue with the Lump within my Tongue. I have an appointment with an Oral Surgeon on 4 Jan 2011. The lump was an inch in diameter, has seem to have shrunken but is still there. Wish me luck!
Hi scedef2

I truly hope that everything goes well for you on Tuesday. I'm not a doctor (don't even play one on TV), but the fact that it seems to shrink could be a good sign. If the oral surgeon isn't able to give you any answers, the next step would probably be an otolaryngologist. My fingers are crossed that it won't be necessary.

Hope you're having a good holiday season.

I am so glad to find this forum. I have had an array of tongue issues the past few months. Here is the short of it: In early Oct. I noticed the top of my tongue burning. I blamed it on the new toothpaste I was using and switched. The burning got worse over the next few weeks and my tongue had a disgusting coating on it (looked like hariy tongue). Then, in mid November, the burning subsided a little but the left side of my tongue became extremely sore, as if it was rubbing on a tooth. Then, I discovered a small lump (pea-sized) on the top left of my tongue. The lump can only be felt when I stick my tongue out and flex it. I have seen two oral surgeons and an ENT, all of whom don't seem concerned. I have also had an array of medications -- Nystatin, medicated mouthwash, etc... None have helped. I also, in the last two weeks, have been able to feel/hear fluid in my left ear, but I have had somewhat of a slight cold. I have convinced myself that I have oral cancer. The general opinion of the docs I've seen is that I have burning tongue syndrome, an unexplained sore spot on the left of my tongue, and a lump that isn't dangerous. No one has biopsied, however. Also, I am now pregnant and on pins and needles worrying.
I am having the same issue with my a small lump in my tongue. It can not be felt with the fingers only when I press it between my teeth. I noticed it after having several fever blisters in a row. My doctor told me they are only worried about sores on the outside of the tongue, for those could be cancerous. I try not to worry about it but I seem to play with it a lot with my teeth and then it gets sore. I wonder if any of you had a bout with fever blisters first then noticed your lump?
Hi I'm 18 I am a smoker and I dip regualary. Two days ago I found a lump on the inside of my tongue. It's about a inch back in the middle on the right of it. It doesn't hurt at all it just scares me alot cause I'm not sure what it is I have looked around and found out a list of things it could be such as, cancer, infection, maybe something I have eaten, saliva glands or something, I have to work all week and can not take time off anyone help?
Hi X_H4J

The first thing you ought to do is quit smoking and dip. I will now jump off my soap box.

It could be any number of things, but this really isn't the place for a diagnosis. You might call your doctor to see if the office has evening or weekend hours to accommodate you, or go to your local urgent care center. You said that you found it a couple of days ago--could you have perhaps bitten it while eating (happens to me all the time)?

Please let us know what happens.

Im 20 i just got my tongue periced about a week 1/2 ago & the swelling has gone down but i have pretty much the same symptoms as everyone on here, a very small bump on the tip left side, does hurt when i mess with it, kind of redish, i dont smoke or drink so im really scared.. what should i do? alot of ppl tell me its normal but from reading this site im not to sure anymore..
Hi Jennymo

Have you seen a doctor or dentist about the bump and pain in your tongue? It could be infected, or perhaps some food has worked its way into the incision.

You're not going to like this suggestion at all, but please take the stud out of your tongue and let it heal.

Please let us know how this turns out.

so i took your advice, i talked to my docter also talked to my piercer. my piercer said everythings fine & that hes seen this before through the healing process, he couldnt really explain what it was or anything but made me feel better that hes seen this before.. my doctor the following day said that it was my tastebuds reacting to food, like salty foods or something like that, & she said they (my tastebuds) were just irritated, to stop eating salty foods while i have my tongue swollen from my piercing otherwise take it out, witch i didnt want to do so kept it in & now the bump has gone tremendously down & redness has gone away, not all the way but look so much better!
I discovered the same pea-sized lump in my tongue about three years ago. I showed it to my dentist and he said it was probably a salivary gland. Told me to watch it. A year later he suggested I see an oral surgeon. The OS practically laughed at me but had me come back in 6 months. Since the lump is still there (not painful, only mildly annoying) he suggested removing it (for $675!). Shouldn't he biopsy it and then make that decision? What does a biopsy entail? I have a very high deductible on my insurance policy and can't see paying that much if the lump isn't doing me any harm. I can live with a little lump. Should I see an ENT doctor for a second opinion? Thanks for your help!
Hello monellie

If a lesion is small, the excision biopsy removes it all. Perhaps that is what your surgeon meant. If the lump worries you, and you are reassured by your specialist, you will stop worrying about it if you have it removed.

Best wishes
Vinod Coffee
Thank you. I appreciate your view point. I have an appointment with an Ent tomorrow. We'll see what he says.
I have the same thing! All day long I felt nothing and no pain really, and at the end of the day it started hurting.. What did yours turn out to be?

Let us know the results. We've all been there in one way or another and are eager to help you through whatever the diagnosis turns out to be.

Take care and best of luck!

Thanks, Mimi. I saw an ENT who told me not to worry about it, so I am not having it removed at this point in time. The oral surgeon disagreed and felt I should let him remove it because "it shouldn't be there". But I'm a self-pay and $800 for something I probably don't need is silly. If insurance was paying for it, I'd probably do it. Or if I was afraid it was cancer, I'd definitely do it. If I notice a drastic change I'll rethink the issue. My lump gets bigger at times, then shrinks, which leads the ENT to think something is just clogged (he probably used a better word!) Thanks again for your concern. Hope this helps someone.
I too have a lump inside my tongue that started as small as a ball bearing and is now the size of a kernal of corn. I first noticed it about 12+ years ago and my periodontist said it's nothing. About 9 yrs ago I went to an oral surgeon who said he didn't know what it was and come back to measure it in a year. I never went back. I now have another appt with an oral surgeon next month. It is painful sometimes, unnoticed other times. It swells up sometimes and others it stays the size of a kernal of corn. I am terrified of its removal based on everything I've read here. The fact that I've had it so long makes it think it can stay there, but a lot of that is the fear. Truthfully I'd like it out as it hurts and it doesn't belong there, but the terror keeps me from committing to the removal.
Hi Mountainlaura,
I'm not sure why you're terrified. If my lump hurt, I'd have it removed. For me it's strictly a question of expense. Are you afraid of finding out it's something serious, like cancer? My ENT said that if I'd had the lump for 3 years and I wasn't dead yet, it wasn't cancer. You've had yours for 12 years! The oral surgeon is trained to DO SURGERY (mostly on gums), so that's what he wants to do. I've been told (by a couple doctor friends) that if I decide to have it removed I should let the ENT do it. ENT's have more experience with the tongue. If you're afraid of the pain involved with recovery from the surgery, that's another thing which wouldn't bother me too much. The mouth heals quickly and the relief of having the lump out, and dealing with the results, would outweigh the pain. Best of luck to you.
Last edited by monellie

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