Last modified on June 24th, 2018


This refers to removal of part of the tongue (partial glossectomy), half of the tongue
(hemiglossectomy), or all of the tongue (Total glossectomy).

Most patients experience numbness or altered sensation to the tongue on the side of the operation. This is often permanent if the tumour was close to the lingual nerve.

Sometimes the remaining part of the tongue on the side of the surgery will not move well due to injury to the motor nerves from the hypoglossal nerve.

Usually patients function satisfactorily in terms of speech and swallowing, if the remaining opposite side of the
tongue still has its nerve supply. Our speech and language therapists can help you to improve the function.

When patients have surgery – particularly extensive surgery – to the tongue, it can affect speech and swallowing. Sometimes this is only relatively minor and improves in a short space of time, during which your feeding will be supported with either a Nasogastric tube (from the nose in to the stomach) or a RIG tube (a tube placed directly through in to the stomach from the outside of the abdomen by radiological intervention).

If the surgery is more extensive this can take more time to recover. In the case of a total glossectomy it is more likely that patients will require longer term feeding support with a RIG.