Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Journal of Medical Case Reports and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Case report

Tongue metastasis as an initial presentation of renal cell carcinoma: a case report and literature review

Faisal Azam*, Muneer Abubakerr and Simon Gollins

Author Affiliations

Department of Oncology, North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre, Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan, Rhyl, LL18 5UJ, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Medical Case Reports 2008, 2:249  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-2-249

Published: 25 July 2008



Primary tumour of the kidney metastasizing to the tongue is very unusual and only anecdotal cases have been reported. An exhaustive literature review covering the period from 1911 onwards disclosed 28 cases. Out of those, only 3 cases presented initially with tongue metastases before the diagnosis of primary renal cell carcinoma.

The prognosis for patients with lingual metastasis of renal cell carcinoma is poor. Treatment of tongue metastasis is usually palliative and aims to provide patient comfort by means of pain relief and prevention of bleeding and infection. Surgical excision is recommended as the primary treatment with emphasis on preservation of tongue structure and function.

Case presentation

We report a case of tongue metastasis as an initial presentation of renal cell carcinoma in a 78-year-old man. Initially thought to be primary tongue cancer but on review of his histopathology again, it was diagnosed to be a rare metastasis from kidney cancer.


Tongue metastasis from renal cell carcinoma is rare and its diagnosis is a challenge. The prognosis of patients with tongue metastasis is poor. Similar to the primary tumours of the tongue, metastatic lesions may be ulcerated or polypoid. Since the tongue is a rare metastatic site, when a lesion is detected, a thorough evaluation to distinguish between metastasis and primary cancer should be made as the management and prognosis vary.