Oral Leukoplakia

Oral leukoplakia cancer

Overview of oral leukoplakia

Oral diseases are very common in all age groups and genders. They arise from infections in the mucosal lining in most cases. Infections of the tongue may be of severe types and may even give rise to chronic tongue diseases. In due course of time, it may even lead to oral cancer. The World Health Organization statistics show that nearly 300,000 new cases of oral cancer are reported each year all over the world.

 

What is oral leukoplakia?

Oral leukoplakia modelLeukoplakia, also called “leukokeratosis” or “leukoplasia” is a medical condition in which plaque, keratin, and irregular patch formation occur on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity.

It is characterized by the formation of irregular white patches on the mucosal linings, accompanied by pain, inflammation, and tenderness.

Fluid-filled blisters may form when the condition becomes very critical.

 

What causes oral leukoplakia?

Oral leukoplakia may result from a number of environmental, pathogenic and dietary factors. The commonly studied causes are given below-

Tobacco

More than 80% of the leukoplakia patients have a history of smoking. Research studies have revealed a positive correlation between the degree of smoking and the size of the lesions seen in leukoplakia.

These people usually suffer from diffuse leukoplakia of the tongue, buccal mucosa, lips and in some cases, the floor of the mouth. Most affected are the people who practice reverse smoking.

Chewing tobacco is even more dangerous and may lead to white patches in buccal sulcus, commonly known as “tobacco pouch keratosis”. The symptoms may disappear on cessation of tobacco consumption.

Alcohol

People used to alcohol abuse alongside tobacco consumption develop severe mucosal infections. Overuse of mouthwashes containing more than 25% alcohol content leads to the formation of greyish plaques on buccal mucosa.

Sanguinaria

This is a variety of herbal extract found in toothpastes. It causes “sanguinaria associated keratosis”. It is often accompanied by dysplasia. This may or may not give rise to malignancy.

Ultraviolet radiation

It gives rise to lesions in the lower lip and is often associated with cheilosis.

Pathogens

Certain varieties of microbial pathogens like Candida and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can attack and damage the squamous epithelium in the mouth.

Epithelial atrophy

Mucosal and epithelial atrophy may arise from certain conditions like vitamin deficiency, iron deficiency or oral fibrosis.

Tumor suppressor genes

Mutations in the tumor suppressor gene p53 can lead to an uncontrolled cell growth and eventually result in leukoplakia along with dysplasia. People who are used to excessive drinking and smoking can develop these symptoms.

Trauma

Trauma induced by friction or irritation may lead to keratosis. Nicotine stomatitis, which results from the heat generated in tobacco smoking is an example of this category. Mechanical trauma may also be caused by the pointed edges of dentures or a broken tooth. The plaques, in this case, resemble callus on the skin.

 

What are the main symptoms of oral leukoplakia?

Oral leukoplakia cancerOral leukoplakia generally manifests as-

  • The appearance of whitish, yellowish white or greyish patches on the mucosal linings
  • Transformation of patches into lesions
  • Alteration in the surface texture and color of the affected surface
  • Formation of thickened plaques on the mucosal surface
  • The appearance of fluid-filled blisters that may release a purulent discharge on being rubbed or scratched
  • Scalding, tingling and numbness in the entire mouth
  • Extreme dryness and roughness of tongue
  • A bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Reduced ability to taste (hypogeusia)
  • Pain in the tongue (glossodynia)
  • Burning sensation in the tongue (glossoptosis)
  • Damaged oral mucosa
  • Problems in swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Altered taste sensations (dysgeusia)

 

What are the different types of oral leukoplakia?

Based on the site affected, oral leukoplakia is of two types-

  • Leukoplakia buccalis: Plaque formation and infection occur in the buccal mucosa.
  • Leukoplakia lingualis: The lingual mucosa is severely affected in this case.

Based on the etiology and the intensity of the disease, the following types have been identified-

  • Homogeneous leukoplakia: Here the plaque is generally uniform, thick and extends over a wider area. It presents with a corrugated and wrinkled surface texture. On being touched it appears leathery and dry with some superficial irregularities.
  • Non-homogeneous leukoplakia: Here, the plaques are nodular with irregularities at certain places. Thick and white papillary lesions are formed which are collectively known as- verrucous leukoplakia. The lesions, in this case, are localized or spread out.
  • Proliferative verrucous leukoplakia: It is a type of non-homogeneous leukoplakia that affects the gum and the buccal mucosa. Veruccoid keratotic plaques are formed in this case, that spread to adjoining areas. This may lead to dysplasia, that may eventually progress to verrucous carcinoma.
  • Erythroleukoplakia: It is characterized by the formation of reddish and whitish lesions. It affects the buccal mucosa. It has extremely high risks of developing into carcinoma.
  • Sublingual keratosis: This refers to the leukoplakia of the floor of the mouth or below the tongue. It often gives rise to an “ebbing tide” structure due to the parallel and ridged appearance.
  • Candidal leukoplakia: It is also called chronic hyperplastic candidiasis and is caused by the Candida species.
  • Oral hairy leukoplakia: Rough and hairy lesions form on the sides of the tongue due to infections caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.
  • Syphilitic leukoplakia: It is commonly seen in syphilis patients. The causative agent, in this case, is Treponema pallidum.

 

Diagnosis

The doctors generally recommend the following diagnostic tests-

  • Cystoscopy (endoscopy of the urinary bladder): Teveals the white lesions on the urothelium
  • Tissue biopsy: To rule out malignancy
  • Brush biopsy / exfoliative cytology: To remove and test sample cells from the affected area
  • Histological examinations: To determine the degree of hyperplasia and inflammatory cell infiltration

In the early stages, certain topical and systemic medications can help cure the symptoms. The most important ones are- carotenoids, retinoids, antimycotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Photodynamic therapy is carried out in more advanced stages.

 

Treatment & Prevention

In many cases of oral leukoplakia, there is no major treatment requirement as it resolves on its own. The only thing advised in such cases is strict avoidance of triggers such as tobacco. If the underlying issue is misalignment of teeth or ill-fitting dentures/crowns, then oral leukoplakia will be treated by correcting these errors. If the biopsy report of the oral leukoplakia reveals a malignant feature, additional diagnostic measure would be required to ensure it’s cancerous (or precancerous).  If it’s benign, the dentist will use a scalpel to remove the white patches. In all of these cases, practicing good oral hygiene is a must for all patients. In the rare case the oral leukoplakia is caused by a viral agent such as HIV, antiviral therapy is prescribed.

Oral leukoplakia can be largely prevented by following these measures:

  • Refrain from tobacco consumption. Any kind of inhaled smoked product such as cloves, resin, or cannabis should be avoided.
  • Go for regular dental check-ups, regardless of whether you have a dental issue or not.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption.
  • Stay away from materials which are abrasive for teeth.
  • Make sure that your dental cavities are filled properly.
  • Similarly, make a note that any dental device (crowns, dentures etc.) that is fit in your oral cavity is well fitting and its rough edges are not irritating the oral mucosa.
  • Avoid foods that may irritate your oral cavity – hard candies, soda drinks, acidic foods etc.
  • Practice safe sex. The Human Papillomavirus is known to cause leukoplakia. Using proper protection can ensure that the virus doesn’t spread.

Facts

  • Oral leukoplakia is the medical term for “white patches” formed in the oral cavity. In fact, it is the most commonly prevalent potentially malignant lesion of the oral region.
  • Oral cavity is not the only region where leukoplakia can develop. It can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract, the genitals, and the urinary tract.

Facts

  • Every year there are more than 300,000 cases of oral cavity cancers reported worldwide. In many of these, oral leukoplakia is one of the primary symptoms.
  • Though it can occur at any age, it is most commonly observed in people under the age of 40.

Facts

  • It is 6 times more common among smokers than non-smokers.
  • Oral cancer is the 11th most common cancer globally. Tobacco use is noted among 41% of male and 11% of female population diagnosed with oral cancer.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you have malocclusion (misaligned dental arches) or ill-fitting dentures, get them treated as soon as possible.
  • If you have a substance abuse issue (smoking or drinking or both), seek immediate help for quitting it.
  • Make sure that your diet is not deficient in vitamin A and B.
Don'ts
  • Indulge in ANY form of tobacco consumption. This includes smoking, chewing tobacco, use of cigars and pipes, and even smokeless cigar.
  • Delay in getting a biopsy in case there are changes observed in the appearance of white patches.
  • Consume excessively hot or cold foods.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
Glutathione: Probably the strongest antioxidant known to mankind An antioxidant with ample potential to transform your body, glutathione is one of the most critical substances secreted…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more about this popular…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Paleo diet man
Paleo Diet: Is eating like the Caveman the right way to go? Paleo diet is the world's oldest diet; dating back to 2.5 million years ago. Why is this prehistoric…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigous superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
stevia side effects
Stevia: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another risky additive? Stevia is a plant native to South America.  It has been used as a natural sugar substitute and…
Pomegranate: Why are they called ruby red pearls of health? The shrub Punicagranatum yields a red fruit which is what you normally call pomegranate. The fruit is round…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
BCAAs powder
BCAA: Now get more out of your workouts with this miracle protein BCAAs are counted as one of the best supplements for increasing your physical endurance. Find out what are…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
Serotonin happiness
Serotonin : What you didn’t know about this “feel-good” chemical Serotonin : Did you know that this "feel-good" hormone could well impact your sleep cycle, sex drive, appetite,…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
ADHD forgetful
ADD versus ADHD: What are the fundamental differences? Is every hyperactive child a patient of ADHD? Do adults display symptoms of ADHD as well? What is…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
kale
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that can protect from…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
How to make the apple cider vinegar diet work for you? Apple cider vinegar diet is a popular choice among health enthusiasts.Find out why nutritionists believe this could be…
How much protein
Proteins: What is the right protein-intake for your specific needs? As we all know protein is an essential macronutrient indispensible to good health and body. But how much…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding on the plant…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway? Don't make these…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…