Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Diagnosis and Treatment of Palate Cancer

The palate is composed of two parts: the soft palate (a structure of the middle part of the throat) and the hard palate (the bony top part of the mouth). Whereas cancers that arise in the soft palate are considered oropharyngeal cancers, those that occur in the hard palate are considered to be oral cavity cancers. About half of hard palate cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, meaning they arise from flat, thin cells in the epidermis lining the region. The other half of hard palate cancers arise from many other cell types that also exist in the tissues.

Improving Your Chances of Success

Unlike most other head and neck cancers, it is not clear whether regular use of tobacco and/or alcohol are the major causes of cancer of the hard palate. A habit more common in Asia than in the rest of the world called reverse smoking, where users enclose the lit end of a cigarette in their mouth, is known to be a risk factor for this disease.

In early stages, cancer in the hard palate can look like a harmless sore and can occur without symptoms. Nevertheless, early detection and treatment of palate cancer greatly improves survival rates. Therefore, in addition to checking your own mouth for suspicious changes, your dentist should inspect your mouth for signs of oral cancer during your regular dental exams, particularly if you engage in reverse smoking.

Stanford Expertise

Like all head and neck cancers, palate cancer is rare. Therefore, it is important to be seen by a team of physicians who have expertise in treating this specific disease. palate cancers can be treated with surgery and/or radiation and in rare instances experimental chemotherapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer. The head and neck cancer specialists at the Stanford Cancer Center have experience treating palate cancer, and will provide you with the multidisciplinary, quality, compassionate care that you deserve.

In addition, if the cancer is advanced, reconstructive surgeons and speech therapists are integrated into treatment to ensure maximum success in preserving your swallowing and speaking ability.

Care for Your Mind and Spirit at Stanford

It wouldn't be the best care possible if we didn't provide it in an atmosphere that soothes your soul and makes navigating treatment simple and convenient.

By providing nourishing details like piano music in the entry, natural light throughout the building, and room for your family to remain with you while you are receiving treatment, the Stanford Cancer Center stands as a physical symbol of our concern for your health and well-being. In addition, a variety of services and support staff are available to help with emotional, physical, or social challenges that you might encounter while receiving cancer care.

Contact information

You can choose to come to the Stanford Cancer Center at any point in your care.  Please call (877)668-7535 for assistance in scheduling a new patient appointment with the appropriate specialist.

If you are not a resident of the United States and would like more information on how to access services in the Stanford Cancer Center, or other programs at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, please contact International Medical Services by calling 1-877-487-0237 or send an email to

The Stanford Cancer Center is located at 875 Blake Wilbur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305 near Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

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