Epidemiological Analysis of Tongue Lesions in a Tertiary Health Facility in Tanzania


Background: The tongue is susceptible to a multitude of conditions that can be of developmental, neoplastic, or inflammatory nature, whose occurrence varies globally by age, sex, and ethnicity. The objective of the present study was to determine the incidence of tongue lesions among cases managed in a tertiary hospital in Tanzania.

Methods: This study analyzed histological results of patients with tongue lesions diagnosed between 2016 and 2021. Data on the age and sex of the patients and histological diagnosis were collected. Data analysis was done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 27.

Results: A total of 190 samples of tongue lesions were studied and 18 different histological diagnoses were observed. Generally, a majority (84.2%) of the biopsied tongue lesions were malignant. The most common (74.7%) lesions diagnosed were squamous cell carcinoma followed by hemangioma (5.3%). A significant association was noted between the nature of the lesions and the age group and sex of the patients.

Conclusion: This analysis depicts that tongue lesions are frequently encountered in patients managed in tertiary health facilities in Tanzania. A majority of these lesions are malignant tumors. The sex and age of the patients are determining factors for the occurrence of tongue lesions.


tongue, neoplastic lesions, squamous cell carcinoma, Tanzania

[1] Dotiwala, A. K., & Samra, N. S. (2023). Anatomy, head and neck, tongue (1st ed.). StatPearls Publishing. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23319169

[2] Stone, M., Woo, J., Lee, J., Poole, T., Seagraves, A., Chung, M., Kim, E., Murano, E. Z., Prince, J. L., & Blemker, S. S. (2018). Structure and variability in human tongue muscle anatomy. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. Imaging & Visualization, 6(5), 499– 507. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681163.2016.1162752

[3] Altintas, M. (2023, May 15). Histopathological analysis of tongue lesions and distribution by age groups. Medical Record, 5(2), 192–195. https://doi.org/10.37990/medr.1159536

[4] Lasisi, T. J., & Abimbola, T. A. (2017). Clinicopathologic review of biopsied tongue lesions in a Nigerian Tertiary Hospital. Annals of Ibadan Postgraduate Medicine, 15(2), 109–113.

[5] Parada, C., Han, D., & Chai, Y. (2012). Molecular and cellular regulatory mechanisms of tongue myogenesis. Journal of Dental Research, 91(6), 528– 535. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022034511434055

[6] Jain, P., & Rathee, M. (2023). Embryology, tongue (1st ed.). StatPearls Publishing.

[7] Avcu, N., & Kanli, A. (2003). The prevalence of tongue lesions in 5150 Turkish dental outpatients. Oral Diseases, 9(4), 188–195. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1601-0825.2003.02933.x

[8] Byahatti, S. M., & Ingafou, M. S. H. (2010). The prevalence of tongue lesions in Libyan adult patients. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, 2(4), 2–7. https://doi.org/10.4317/jced.2.e163

[9] Narala, S., & Sri, S. (2020). Clinicopathologic study of tongue lesions at a tertiary care hospital. Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences, 9(11), 856–859. https://doi.org/10.14260/jemds/2020/184

[10] Dhanuthai, K., Kintarak, S., Subarnbhesaj, A., & Chamusri, N. (2020). A multicenter study of tongue lesions from Thailand. European Journal of Dentistry, 14(3), 435–439. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0040- 1713296

[11] Vishal, G. M., Patil, A., & Shubha, A. D. (2018). Histopathological study of oral cavity lesions. Indian Journal of Pathology: Research and Practice, 7(4), 549–554. https://doi.org/10.21088/ijprp.2278.148X.7418.25

[12] Alaeddini, M., Barghammadi, R., Eshghyar, N., & Etemad-Moghadam, S. (2014). An analysis of biopsy-proven tongue lesions among 8,105 dental outpatients. The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 15(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.5005/jpjournals- 10024-1478

[13] Farzinnia G, Sasannia M, Torabi S, Rezazadeh F, Ranjbaran A, Azad A. (2022). Correlation between clinical and histopathological diagnoses in oral cavity lesions: A 12-year retrospective study. International Journal of Dentistry, 2022, 1016495.

[14] Dube, N. C., Moshy, J. R., Vuhahula, E. A., & Sohal, K. S. (2019). Benign fibro-osseous lesions of the jaws: A clinicopathologic study of 98 Tanzanian patients. Journal of Oral Medicine and Oral Surgery, 25(4), 38. https://doi.org/10.1051/mbcb/2019026

[15] Siriwardena, B. S. M. S., Crane, H., O’Neill, N., Abdelkarim, R., Brierley, D. J., Franklin, C. D., Farthing, P. M., Speight, P. M., & Hunter, K. D. (2019, February). Odontogenic tumors and lesions treated in a single specialist oral and maxillofacial pathology unit in the United Kingdom in 1992-2016. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, 127(2), 151–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oooo.2018.09.011

[16] Jimson, S., Balachader, N., Anita, N., & Babu, R. (2015). Immunologically mediated oral diseases. Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, 7(Suppl 1), S209–S212. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975- 7406.155909

[17] Feller, L., & Lemmer, J. (2012). Oral squamous cell carcinoma: Epidemiology, clinical presentation and treatment. Journal of Cancer Therapy, 03(04), 263– 268. https://doi.org/10.4236/jct.2012.34037

[18] Fan, H., Yoon, K. Y., Kim, S. M., Myoung, H., Lee, J. H., & Kim, M. J. (2015). Relationship between squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue and the position of dental prosthesis. The Journal of Advanced Prosthodontics, 7(2), 129–137. https://doi.org/10.4047/jap.2015.7.2.129

[19] Sohal, K. S., Owibingire, S. S., Moshy, J. R., Deoglas, D. K., Laizer, P. J., Kalyanyama, B. M., & Sylivester, E. (2022). Orofacial squamous cell carcinoma: Analysis of histopathological reports of 465 patients in Tanzania. Clinical Cancer Investigation Journal, 11(3), 9–14. https://doi.org/10.51847/i0ghb95pWs

[20] Berege, G. Z., Vuhahula, E., Sohal, K. S., Merkx, M. W., & Simon, E. N. M. (2019). Predisposing factors and clinico-pathological presentation of malignant lesions of the oro-facial region in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Medical Journal of Zambia, 46(4), 286– 296. https://doi.org/10.55320/mjz.46.4.595

[21] Sohal, K., & Moshy, J. (2017). Six year review of malignant oral and maxillofacial neoplasms attended at Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. East African Medical Journal, 3(1), 35–38. https://doi.org/10.33886/ecamj.v3i1.35

[22] Garg, K., Chandra, S., Raj, V., Fareed, W., & Zafar, M. (2015). Molecular and genetic aspects of odontogenic tumors: A review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 18(6), 529–536.

[23] Gambino, A., Carbone, M., Arduino, P. G., Carrozzo, M., Conrotto, D., Tanteri, C., Carbone, L., Elia, A., Maragon, Z., & Broccoletti, R. (2015). Clinical features and histological description of tongue lesions in a large Northern Italian population. Medicina Oral, Patologia Oral y Cirugia Bucal, 20(5), e560–e565. https://doi.org/10.4317/medoral.20556