Leukoplakia, also known as Oral Leukoplakia, is a precancerous condition that is seen inside the mouth and presents as a persistent white patch that cannot be rubbed off or removed. It is associated with tobacco smoking and chewing, and eating betel nuts. While it is most commonly seen in the mouth, it can also be present on the mucosal surfaces of the gastrointestinal tract and the genitals.
Leukoplakia is not a medical emergency.
Leukoplakia may be of the following types:
The exact cause of Leukoplakia is not known. There is however a strong association between chewing or smoking tobacco and the consumption of betel nuts. Some factors that can cause Leukoplakia to include:
Factors that increase the risk of Leukoplakia include:
Leukoplakia does not cause any symptoms in a majority of cases. Symptoms if present includes:
There are no specific investigations that can be done to evaluate Leukoplakia and a physical examination and medical history are the mainstays of diagnosis. Some procedures that may be advised include:
A diagnosis of Leukoplakia is established based on medical history, clinical evaluation, and results of the investigations done.
There are no proven treatments for the management of Leukoplakia other than the surgical removal of the entire patch. Some medications may be prescribed which help in a few cases of the condition.
Medical management of Leukoplakia may include the following although none have a proven effect on curing the condition:
Surgical interventions for the management of Leukoplakia include complete removal of the patch. The following may be done:
Some measures that can be taken to prevent Leukoplakia include:
Some complications associated with Leukoplakia include:
The prognosis for Leukoplakia is generally good, however, a sizable number of individuals with Leukoplakia tend to develop multiple oral cancers and poorer outcomes. Surgical removal of Leukoplakia does not guarantee a risk in the reduction of oral cancer.
It is advisable to seek medical attention if painless white patches are noticed in the mouth, especially if there is a history of tobacco or alcohol use.
Brief hospitalization may be required for the surgical management of Leukoplakia.
Regular dental checkups are advised for individuals who smoke or chew tobacco and consume alcohol.