About This Condition
Leukoplakia is a common, potentially pre-cancerous disease of the mouth that involves the formation of white spots on the mucous membranes of the tongue and inside of the mouth.
Despite the increased risk associated with having leukoplakia, many people with this condition never get oral cancer. People with leukoplakia are typically middle-aged and older adults; men are more likely than women to develop the disease. The risk is much higher in smokers and users of smokeless tobacco than in people who do not use tobacco products of any kind. Betel nut chewers in Asia are also at high risk. People infected with HIV or Epstein-Barr virus are at high risk for a particular form of this condition, called hairy leukoplakia, which requires treatment with antiviral medication. Another variation of this disease, proliferative verrucous leukoplakia, is much more likely to progress to cancer than are other forms. Genetic predisposition may be responsible for some cases of leukoplakia.1
People with leukoplakia may notice a white patch on their tongue, gums, cheek, or roof of the mouth.
Treatment is usually directed at any underlying medical conditions.