Palate Cancer Treatment

The palate is commonly called the roof of the mouth.

The palate is divided into two parts: the bony hard palate in the front, and the fleshy soft palate in the back of the mouth. The hard palate is located in the oral cavity and the soft palate is located in the oropharynx.

Treatments for cancer the soft palate and cancer of the hard palate are different.
 

Treatments for Cancer of the Soft Palate


Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) is often recommended to treat all stages soft palate cancer. Radiation therapy does not usually affect speech and swallowing.

Radiation therapy can be used as after surgery to destroy small cancer deposits in the neck or soft palate that could not be removed during surgery.

IMRT uses a computer to deliver precise doses of radiation to a tumor or an area of a tumor. This minimizes radiation exposure to the surrounding normal tissue. IMRT allows the use of more effective radiation doses with fewer side effects than conventional radiotherapy techniques.
Radiation therapy, including IMRT, stops cancer cells from dividing. The growth of the tumor is slowed. Radiotherapy also destroys cancer cells and can shrink or eliminate tumors.

Radiation therapy involves 5-6 weeks of daily treatments.

Chemotherapy

Medical oncologists administer chemotherapy if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. The medicine circulates in the blood and disrupts the growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications are taken by mouth or given through a vein for several months.

Chemotherapy is prescribed for different reasons:

  • together with radiotherapy as an alternative to surgery (called chemoradiation)
  • after surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer returning
  • to slow the growth of a tumor and control symptoms when the cancer cannot be cured (palliative treatment).

Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy

A combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiation) is an effective treatment.

Radiation therapy used alone or with chemotherapy is the primary treatment for moderate or advanced cancers in order to preserve the soft palate and its function.

Radiotherapy can be combined with chemotherapy and surgery. 

Laser Microsurgery for Soft Palate Cancer

Laser microsurgery is used for small and medium-sized tumors in the soft palate. The surgeon looks at the soft palate, through the mouth and nose, using a special instrument. After the surgeon locates the tumor, a laser is used to divide the tumor into sections. The sections are then removed and a pathologist examines the cells for cancer.

Transoral laser microsurgery can preserve normal tissues, causes less pain, and help maintain speech and swallowing.
 

Treatments for Cancer of the Hard Palate


Surgery

Surgery is the preferred treatment for cancer of the hard palate. The bone closest to the tumor often contains cancer cells and part of it may also need to be removed. If the tumor is small, the excised area can easily be closed after surgery.

If the tumor is large, the excised area cannot be closed and a prosthetic device is needed to cover the opening in the roof of the mouth. The prosthesis looks similar to a denture plate.

If the lymph nodes in the neck are affected a neck dissection may be needed to remove the nodes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be prescribed before surgery, after surgery, or sometimes as the only treatment. Radiation uses high-energy X-rays, electron beams, or radioactive isotopes to destroy cancer cells.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
uses a computer to deliver precise doses of radiation to a tumor or an area of a tumor. This minimizes radiation exposure to the surrounding normal tissue. IMRT allows the use of more effective radiation doses with fewer side effects than conventional radiotherapy techniques.

Radiation therapy, including IMRT, stops cancer cells from dividing. The growth of the tumor is slowed. Radiotherapy also destroys cancer cells and can shrink or eliminate tumors.

Radiation therapy involves 5-6 weeks of daily treatments.

Chemotherapy

Medical oncologists administer chemotherapy if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. The medicine circulates in the blood and disrupts the growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications are taken by mouth or given through a vein for several months.

Chemotherapy is prescribed for different reasons:

  • together with radiotherapy as an alternative to surgery (called chemoradiation)
  • after surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer returning
  • to slow the growth of a tumor and control symptoms when the cancer cannot be cured (palliative treatment)

Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy

A combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiation) is an effective treatment.

Radiation therapy used alone or with chemotherapy is the primary treatment for moderate or advanced cancers in order to preserve the soft palate and its function.

Radiotherapy can be combined with chemotherapy and surgery.