Canine soft palate cancer is a diagnosis that no dog owner wants to hear. The soft palate is a muscular extension of the hard palate that closes off the nasal cavity during swallowing. As part of the oral cavity, it is susceptible to oral cancers.
Fibrosarcoma originates on the gum or palate. It is locally invasive and hard to detect, since the tumours usually grow at the back of the mouth. Luckily, these tumours do not spread to other areas of the body and can be removed surgically.
Osteosarcoma commonly begins in the hard palate, spreading to the soft palate. It does not have a very good survival rate, but is lengthened when the cancer affects the lower jaw versus the upper jaw.
Dogs with soft palate cancer show symptoms such as excess salivation, bad breath and lack of appetite. They experience difficulty chewing and swallowing. Also, open lesion tumours may bleed intermittently, causing bloody saliva or bleeding from the nose.
When a veterinarian suspects canine oral cancer, he will collect a tissue sample and send it to a laboratory for microscopic evaluation. Examination of both the lesions and the cells within the lesions results in proper pathological diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the type of cancer present. Surgical removal is very effective, but the addition of radiation improves prognosis. If the cancer has spread to other organs, chemotherapy is recommended.