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Health Condition

Leukoplakia

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

Symptoms

People with leukoplakia may notice a white patch on their tongue, gums, cheek, or roof of the mouth.

Other Therapies

Treatment is usually directed at any underlying medical conditions.

References

1. Bartsch H, Rojas M, Nair U, et al. Genetic cancer susceptibility and DNA adducts: studies in smokers, tobacco chewers, and coke oven workers. Cancer Detect Prev 1999;23:445-53.

2. Stich HF, Rosin MP, Hornby AP, et al. Remission of oral leukoplakias and micronuclei in tobacco/betel quid chewers treated with beta-carotene and with beta-carotene plus vitamin A. Int J Cancer 1988;42:195-9.

3. Garewal HS, Katz RV, Meyskens F, et al. ß-Carotene produces sustained remission in patients with oral leukoplakia. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999;125:1305-10.

4. Liede K, Hietanen J, Saxen L, et al. Long-term supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene and prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in smokers. Oral Dis 1998;4:78-83.

5. Toma S, Benso S, Albanese E, et al. Treatment of oral leukoplakia with beta-carotene. Oncology 1992;49:77-81.

6. Garewal HS, Meyskens FL Jr, Killen D, et al. Response of oral leukoplakia to beta-carotene. J Clin Oncol 1990;8:1715-20.

7. Lippman SM, Batsakis JG, Toth BB, et al. Comparison of low-dose isotretinoin with beta carotene to prevent oral carcinogenesis. N Engl J Med 1993;328:15-20.

8. Johnson J, Ringsdorf W, Cheraskin E. Relationship of vitamin A and oral leukoplakia. Arch Derm 1963;88:607-12.

9. Stich HF, Mathews B, Sankaranarayanan R, Nair MK. Remission of precancerous lesions in the oral cavity of tobacco chewers and maintenance of the protective effect of ß-carotene or vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:298S-304S.

10. Stich HF, Rosin MP, Hornby AP, et al. Remission of oral leukoplakias and micronuclei in tobacco/betel quid chewers treated with beta-carotene and with beta-carotene plus vitamin A. Int J Cancer 1988;42:195-9.

11. Garewal HS, Katz RV, Meyskens F, et al. ß-Carotene produces sustained remission in patients with oral leukoplakia. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999;125:1305-10.

12. Liede K, Hietanen J, Saxen L, et al. Long-term supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene and prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in smokers. Oral Dis 1998;4:78-83.

13. Toma S, Benso S, Albanese E, et al. Treatment of oral leukoplakia with beta-carotene. Oncology 1992;49:77-81.

14. Garewal HS, Meyskens FL Jr, Killen D, et al. Response of oral leukoplakia to beta-carotene. J Clin Oncol 1990;8:1715-20.

15. Lippman SM, Batsakis JG, Toth BB, et al. Comparison of low-dose isotretinoin with beta carotene to prevent oral carcinogenesis. N Engl J Med 1993;328:15-20.

16. Johnson J, Ringsdorf W, Cheraskin E. Relationship of vitamin A and oral leukoplakia. Arch Derm 1963;88:607-12.

17. Stich HF, Mathews B, Sankaranarayanan R, Nair MK. Remission of precancerous lesions in the oral cavity of tobacco chewers and maintenance of the protective effect of ß-carotene or vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:298S-304S.

18. Li N, Sun Z, Han C, Chen J. The chemopreventive effects of tea on human oral precancerous mucosa lesions. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1999;220:218-24.

19. Garewal H. Antioxidants in oral cancer prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62(suppl):1410S-6S [review].

20. Kaugars GE, Silverman S Jr, Lovas JG, et al. A clinical trial of antioxidant supplements in the treatment of oral leukoplakia. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1994 Oct;78:462-8.

21. Zaridze D, Evstifeeva T, Boyle P. Chemoprevention of oral leukoplakia and chronic esophagitis in an area of high incidence of oral and esophageal cancer. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:225-34.

22. Benner SE, Winn RJ, Lippman SM, et al. Regression of oral leukoplakia with alpha-tocopherol: a community clinical oncology program chemoprevention study. J Natl Cancer Inst 1993;85:44-7.

23. Mihail RC. Oral leukoplakia caused by cinnamon food allergy. J Otolaryngol 1992 Oct:366-7.

24. Gupta PC, Hebert JR, Bhonsle RB, et al. Dietary factors in oral leukoplakia and submucous fibrosis in a population-based case control study in Gujarat, India. Oral Dis 1998;4:200-6.

25. Cianfriglia F, Manieri A, Di Gregorio DA, Di Iorio AM. Retinol dietary intake and oral leukoplakia development. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 1998;17:331-6.

26. Ramaswamy G, Rao VR, Kumaraswamy SV, Anantha N. Serum vitamins' status in oral leukoplakias--a preliminary study. Eur J Cancer B Oral Oncol 1996;32B:120-2.

27. Gupta PC. Epidemiologic study of the association between alcohol habits and oral leukoplakia. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 1984;12:47-50.

28. Macigo FG, Mwaniki DL, Guthua SW. Influence of dose and cessation of kiraiku, cigarettes and alcohol use on the risk of developing oral leukoplakia. Eur J Oral Sci 1996;104:498-502.

29. Evstifeeva TV, Zaridze DG. Nass use, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and risk of oral and oesophageal precancer. Eur J Cancer B Oral Oncol 1992;28B:29-35.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

Drugs used to treat LEUKOPLAKIA. Select drug name to view medication information and pricing