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Palatomaxillary Cancer

The palatomaxillary region includes the hard palate (made of the palatine bones) and the maxilla (in which the upper teeth are rooted). Therefore, palatomaxillary cancers primarily include two subsites of the oral cavity: the hard palate and the upper alveolar ridge.

However, cancers from other subsites of the oral cavity, such as the retromolar trigone or buccal mucosa, can involve the palatomaxillary region as well. Cancers in this region can grow up into the nose or into the maxillary bone and into the maxillary sinus. Alternatively, cancers that originate in the nose, maxillary sinus or even the facial skin can grow inward to invade the palatomaxillary complex.

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Palatomaxillary cancers are quite rare in the U.S., but they are more common in other parts of the world. While most cancers of the palatomaxillary region are squamous cell carcinomas, this is the most common oral cavity subsite to give rise to a non-squamous cell carcinoma.

Also, there are some growths and lesions that can appear in this area that might be mistaken for cancer. Two common ones include:

  • Torus palatini: This is a benign bony growth on the hard palate, usually in the middle.
  • Necrotizing sialometaplasia: This is a benign lesion that usually appears on the back part of the hard palate. It is related to inflammation of (and possibly loss of blood supply to) minor salivary glands on the roof of the mouth.
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