Q:

What could a lump or bump on the roof of your mouth be?

A:

Bumps or lumps on the roof of the mouth can be noncancerous or cancerous. The most common bony outgrowths on the roof of the mouth are called palatal tori and occur in 20 to 30 percent of the population, according to Dr. William M. Bennett in a 2013 article in The New England Journal of Medicine.

These outgrowths are benign, bony projections that most frequently appear in the midline of the roof of the mouth. Family Practice Notebook explains that torus palatinus represents 17 percent of all oral lesions and most of them occur on the roof of the mouth. These lesions grow slowly and are harmless unless they become traumatized when a person is eating. Tori occur more frequently in females than males and people older than 30 years of age.

Cancerous tumors can also originate on the roof of the mouth. They can occur on the hard palate or from the salivary gland components of the soft palate. Fifty-three percent of hard palate cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, while the salivary component cancers are more frequently adenoid cystic carcinomas, notes Medscape. Soft palate cancers are frequently related to tobacco and alcohol use. The relationship between hard palate cancers and environmental exposure is not yet clear.

It is always a good idea to consult a physician when a new bump or lump appears in the mouth. Even though most oral growths are benign, there is still a chance they may be cancerous, and it is very difficult to diagnose cancer by inspection without a biopsy, according to The Merck Manual Professional Edition.


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