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T.J. Lasisi1,2 and T.A. Abimbola2

1. Department of Physiology and Oral Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

2. Department of Oral Pathology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.


Background: Varying pathologic conditions can affect the tongue for which the pattern of occurrence may differ. The aim of this study was to review the clinico-pathologic features of histologically diagnosed cases of tongue lesions that presented in our hospital over a 21 years period.

Materials and Methods: Data on habits, class of lesion, histological diagnosis, age, gender, and site distributions were analyzed using descriptive frequencies, ranges and means ± SD. Variables were compared using Chi square and ANOVA tests as appropriate. Sites of lesions were coded using the WHO ICD-O code on topography.

Results: Tongue lesions were seen in 43 males and 31 females. There was a bimodal peak age of occurrence at 40-49 and 60-69 years of age. Smoking and alcohol intake habits were recorded in 8 cases only. Neoplastic lesions constituted 78.4% of the cases. Using the WHO ICD-O code for topography of lesions, the tongue dorsum (ICD-O-2.0) was the most commonly affected site. Malignant lesions constituted 47.3% of the cases seen. Also, 8.6% of the malignant lesions were seen in younger patients (< 40 years).

Conclusions: Tongue lesions showed a bimodal age of occurrence with neoplastic lesions as the most histologically diagnosed lesions in our study.

Keywords: Tongue, Clinico-pathology, Squamous cell carcinoma, Non-neoplastic lesions


The tongue is an important muscular structure in the oral cavity involved in the critical functions of taste, speaking, chewing and swallowing.1 The condition of the tongue has been considered a good reflection of many systemic diseases2,3. However, varying pathologic conditions may affect the tongue of which chronic lesions often necessitate biopsy and histological diagnosis.4 Most studies that reviewed tongue lesions were based on clinical assessment only. However, the pattern of occurrence of histologically diagnosed tongue lesions may vary across the globe. Generally, few studies5-7 have reported clinico-pathologic review of histologically diagnosed tongue lesions which are mostly case specific. More importantly, none of these studies were from our environment. Thus, the aim of this study was to review the clinic-pathologic features of histologically diagnosed cases of tongue lesions that was presented in our hospital within the last 21 years (1995-2015) and also provide a reference data base from the region.


This is a retrospective cross-sectional study of cases of tongue lesions seen between January 1995 and December 2015. Biopsy records of all histologically diagnosed cases seen in the Oral Pathology department of the University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria within the period were retrieved and included. Data on habit, class of the lesion, histological diagnosis, age, gender and site of lesions were analyzed descriptively using frequencies, ranges and means ± SD. Variables were compared using Chi square and ANOVA tests as appropriate. Patients were also grouped into either young (<40 years) or old (>40 years) age groups based on previous report of different clinicopathologic behavior of tongue lesions in the two age groups.8,9 Sites of lesions were coded using the WHO ICD-O code on topography.


A total of 1807 biopsy cases were diagnosed during the period of which 74 cases (4%) were tongue lesions. The histological diagnoses of the lesions are shown in Table 1. The lesions were seen in 43 males and 31 females with a male to female ratio of 1.4:1. The mean age of occurrence was 46.41 ± 21.13 years (range = 1 to 92 years). The distribution of the lesions based on age group is shown in figure 1. There was a bimodal peak age of occurrence at 40-49 and 60-69 years. Gender distribution of the various classes of tongue lesions are shown in Table 2.

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Dr. T.J. Lasisi

Dept. of Oral Pathology,

University College Hospital,

Ibadan, Nigeria