Classification and external resources

The white lesion is an example of leukoplakia.
ICD-10 K13.2, N48.0, N88.0, N89.4, N90.4
ICD-9 528.6, 530.83, 607.0, 622.2, 623.1, 624.0
DiseasesDB 7438
MedlinePlus 001046
MeSH D007971

Leukoplakia is a clinical term used to describe patches of keratosis.[1] It is visible as adherent white patches[2] on the mucous membranes of the oral cavity, including the tongue, but also other areas of the gastro-intestinal tract, urinary tract and the genitals. The clinical appearance is highly variable. Leukoplakia is not a specific disease entity, but is diagnosis of exclusion.[3] It must be distinguished from diseases that may cause similar white lesions, such as candidiasis or lichen planus. The lesions of leukoplakia cannot be scraped off easily

It is sometimes described as precancerous.[4] It is also associated with smoking.[1]

Tobacco, either smoked or chewed, is considered to be the main culprit in its development. (1998-2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

The term "candidal leukoplakia" is sometimes used to describe certain types of oral candidiasis.[5]

Although the term "leukoplakia" often applies to conditions of the mouth, it can also be used to describe conditions of the genitals and urinary tract.[1]


Incidence and prevalence

Leukoplakic lesions are found in approximately 3% of the world's population. Like erythroplakia, leukoplakia is usually found in adults between 40 and 70 years of age, with a 2:1 male predominance.


Leukoplakia is primarily caused by the use of tobacco. Other possible etiological agents implicated are HPV, Candida albicans and possibly alcohol. Simultaneously serum levels of patients with leukoplakia were found to be low in Vit A,B-12,C & folic acid,in a study conducted in India. Most result from chronic irritation of mucous membranes by carcinogens.[citation needed] Bloodroot, otherwise known as sanguinaria, is also believed to be associated with leukoplakia.[6]

5% to 25% of leukoplakias are premalignant lesions; therefore, all leukoplakias should be treated as premalignant lesions by dentists and physicians - they require histologic evaluation or biopsy. Hairy leukoplakia, which is associated with HIV infection and other diseases of severe immune deficiency can go on to develop lymphoma when associated with HIV.


The treatment of leukoplakia mainly involves avoidance of predisposing factors — tobacco cessation, abstinence from alcohol — and avoidance of chronic irritants, e.g., the sharp edges of teeth. A biopsy should be done, and the lesion surgically excised if pre-cancerous changes or cancer is detected.

Taking beta-carotene orally seems to induce remission in patients with oral leukoplakia. Further research is needed to confirm these results.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Underwood. General and Systemic Pathology. 4th Edition. Edinburgh, London: Churchill Livingstone 2004
  2. ^ "leukoplakia" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ Mishra M, Mohanty J, Sengupta S, Tripathy S (2005). "Epidemiological and clinicopathological study of oral leukoplakia". Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 71 (3): 161–5. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.16229. PMID 16394403. http://www.ijdvl.com/article.asp?issn=0378-6323;year=2005;volume=71;issue=3;spage=161;epage=165;aulast=Mishra. 
  4. ^ Ishida K, Ito S, Wada N, et al (2007). "Nuclear localization of beta-catenin involved in precancerous change in oral leukoplakia". Mol. Cancer 6: 62. doi:10.1186/1476-4598-6-62. PMC 2140063. PMID 17922924. http://www.molecular-cancer.com/content/6//62. 
  5. ^ Sitheeque MA, Samaranayake LP (2003). "Chronic hyperplastic candidiasis/candidiasis (candidal leukoplakia)". Crit. Rev. Oral Biol. Med. 14 (4): 253–67. doi:10.1177/154411130301400403. PMID 12907694. http://cro.sagepub.com/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12907694. 
  6. ^ Leukoplakia, (pdf format) hosted by the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. Page accessed on December 19, 2006.
  7. ^ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/beta-carotene/NS_patient-betacarotene

•Current concepts of the diagnosis and management of potentially malignant disorders of the oral mucosa. Free access articles on oral cancer from Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • leukoplakia — [lo͞o΄kō plā′kē ə, lo͞o΄kəplā′kē ə] n. a disease, sometimes precancerous, characterized by thick, white patches covering the tongue, gums, etc …   English World dictionary

  • leukoplakia — /looh keuh play kee euh/, n. Pathol. a disorder of a mucous membrane characterized by one or more white patches, occurring most commonly on the cheek, tongue, vulva, or penis: often medically insignificant but sometimes becoming malignant. Also,… …   Universalium

  • leukoplakia — A white patch of oral or female genital mucous membrane that cannot be wiped off and cannot be diagnosed clinically as any specific disease entity; in current usage, a clinical …   Medical dictionary

  • leukoplakia — leucoplakia; n. a thickened white patch on a mucous membrane, such as the mouth lining or vulva, that cannot be rubbed off. It is not a specific disease and is present in about 1% of the elderly. Occasionally leukoplakia can become malignant.… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • leukoplakia — noun Etymology: New Latin, from leuk + Greek plak , plax flat surface more at fluke Date: circa 1888 an abnormal condition in which thickened white patches of epithelium occur on the mucous membranes (as of the mouth or vulva); also a lesion or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • leukoplakia — An abnormal patch of white tissue that forms on mucous membranes in the mouth and other areas of the body. It may become cancerous. Tobacco (smoking and chewing) and alcohol may increase the risk of leukoplakia in the mouth …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • leukoplakia — leu·ko·plakia …   English syllables

  • leukoplakia — leu•ko•pla•ki•a or leu•co•pla•ki•a [[t]ˌlu kəˈpleɪ ki ə[/t]] n. pat a condition marked by one or more white patches on a mucous membrane, as of the tongue or cheek, usu. benign • Etymology: 1880–85; < Gk leuko leuko +plak , s. of pláx flat… …   From formal English to slang

  • leukoplakia — …   Useful english dictionary

  • leukoplakia buccalis — white thickened patches on the mucous membrane of the cheeks. See oral l …   Medical dictionary

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