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The soft palate is the soft muscular part of the roof of your mouth behind your teeth. The palate is the roof of the mouth and it has the soft part and the hard part. The softer part of the palate is at the back and is called soft palate while the hard part consists of a bony frontal portion called the hard palate.

Palate cancer is the cancerous growth that affects the roof of your mouth. Cancer can form in either the soft or hard part. Cancer of the palate is a rare condition. It is usually noticed first as mouth ulcer. It is painless in the beginning but can become painful eventually.

Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Foul odor in the mouth

  • Loose teeth

  • Bleeding as the mass grows

  • Dentures no longer fit

  • Difficulty in swallowing

  • Changes in speech

  • Lump in the neck

  • Unable to open the jaw

Causes

  • Smoking or tobacco use is one of the main causes of palate cancer. It is estimated that up to 90% of oral cancers are caused by cigarette, pipe or cigar smoking. Those who chew tobacco and snuff are also at risk of developing the cancer.

  • Alcoholic beverages also contribute in the development of palate cancer.

  • Leukoplakia is a condition that causes white patches in the mouth is also said to be a risk factor for this cancer.

  • Reverse smoking is also a risk factor. This type of smoking is where the lit end of the cigarette is placed inside the mouth, which generates intense heat inside the mouth.

In the early stages, cancer of the palate may not manifest any symptoms and can look like a harmless sore. If a mass growth is observed in your mouth, it is best to have the dentist examine it because early detection of the cancer increases and improves the survival rate. If you regularly visit your dentist, your dentist will be able to notice any suspicious changes in your mouth.

Treatment

If detected early, palate cancer may be treated with any of the following treatment methods:

  • Radiation therapy. This is the primary treatment recommended for moderate or advanced cancers of the palate.

  • Laser microsurgery. This treatment is used for small and medium-sized tumors. This treatment may be combined with chemotherapy or surgery as and when necessary.

  • Surgery. This is the preferred treatment for hard palate cancer. This is usually required when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes of the neck or other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads and the patient’s life becomes threatened, it is necessary to remove the entire portions of the palate. When this happens, the patient will need reconstructive surgery in order to provide a more normal appearance and install tissue flaps and prosthetics that allow the patient to speak and swallow after the surgery.

In addition, rehabilitation therapy may be required to help the patient overcome difficulties in speech and swallowing. You should also learn to choose foods that will require less chewing. Swallowing problems will adjust to regular life after the surgery.