Thursday, December 01, 2011 12:42 PM

Leukoplakia- Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Leukoplakia is a painful condition that may affect about 3% of the people in the world.

Definition of Leukoplakia

It is a health condition that is identified by the development of rough and rigid lesions inside the mouth or on the mouth. It can also appear inside the cheek in result of old irritation.


photo By:commons.wikimedia

Types of Leukoplakia

Here are following types of Leukoplakia:

  1. Hairy Leukoplakia
  2. Oral Leukoplakia
  3. Proliferative Verrucous Leukoplakia
  4. Laryngeal Leukoplakia
  5. Cervical Leukoplakia
  6. Idiopathic Leukoplakia

1. Hairy Leukoplakia

People having weakened immune system, due to consumption of medicines or some disorders may suffer from Hairy Leukoplakia. In this case, the Lesions may occur as White patches in Mouth and Tongue. This type of Leukoplakia is not painful as it is finding on the sides of Tongue. People may confuse this condition with the Oral Thrushes, which are common in people suffering from AIDS.

2. Oral Leukoplakia

It leads to the development of White Plaques that are hard to be rubbed. It occurs in less than 1% of the people and is rare disease. It is a Malignant disease. It is found to be more in men than in women.

3. Proliferative Verrous Leukoplakia

It is a rare type of Leukoplakia. It can also lead to the Verrucous Carcinoma or Squamous Cell Cancer. This condition can recur again.

4. Laryngeal Leukoplakia

This condition is identified by the presence of Keratin on the Vocal Cord. According to the medical researchers this condition can be caused due to the Smoking, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, Alcoholism and Industrial pollution.

5. Cervical Leukoplakia

This condition can cause Ulcers in the Cervix of Vagina. It is White in occurrence with the size of about 1 cm in Diameter. This condition is mostly caused by the Endocrinal disease. This condition may also lead to the Cancer in the future.

6. Idiopathic Leukoplakia

This disease is caused by the presence of White patches in the Mouth. Patients suffering from this disease may also suffer from Cancer in the future. It is also considered as Precancerous Leukoplakia. Studies have shown that about 4-7% of patients have Cancerous transformations of their Ulcers within 20 years.

Homogeneous Leukoplakia:

This condition refers to the Leukoplakia Lesion that is of White color, thin and flat in emergence. These Lesions are smooth or have wrinkles and cracks.

Symptoms of Leukoplakia

This disorder may affect the Mucus Membrane of Mouth. Rigid bumps appear on the Oral area of the patients. These Lesions may appear on:

  • Top of Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Gums
  • Lips
  • Inside Cheeks

In females, these Lesions may occur on the region of Outer Genitals. These lesions are mostly White or Gray. In some patients, this condition may lead to the Cancer. These types of Lesions are thick and lofty in emergence and cannot be easily scratched however this condition is not painful.

Causes of Leukoplakia

The exact cause of this disorder is not known. Many of the discomforting conditions in Mouth can lead to this disorder. Oral problems may appear due to:

1. Smoking

Prolonged smoking may lead to the Smoker’s Keratosis, this is a condition that is identified by the overgrowth of rough Skin in the Mouth.

2.Rough Teeth

Rough surface of Teeth can also lead to this condition.

3.Use of Tobacco:

Prolonged consumption of Tobacco can lead to the higher risk of this disease.

4.Intake of Alcohol

Intake of Alcohol may also lead to this disorder. This factor can enhance the Oral Lesions and deteriorate this disorder.
Some other causes of Leukoplakia may include:

  • Age
  • Lack of immunity
  • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Diagnosis of Leukopalakia

The early diagnosis of this disorder is composed of physical examination of Lesions. A Dentist may also execute a Biopsy of the Lesion to differentiate it from other severe diseases including Cancer. Biopsy is either done in the form of removal of small part of Lesion with a spinning brush or through complete removal of Blister. The Pathologist then checks this sample in the laboratory and shows if any abnormal cell is found in it.

Oral Brsuh Biopsy is also done to take a sample of Lesion for its analysis. If this condition is found then Excisional Biopsy is done to remove the Blister completely. If the Lesion is large then an Oral surgeon may carry out this operation.

Differential Diagnosis of Leukoplakia

The differential diagnosis is done to distinguish this condition from other conditions that have same symptoms. These may include:

  • Hyperkeratosis
  • Dysplasia
  • Squamous Carcinoma
  • Lichen Planus
  • Candidosis
  • Lupus Erythematosis

In few cases, an entire Oral Mucosal Test is carried out to reduce the other causes related to White Lesion in the Mouth. Tests are also essential to detect the Lymphadenopathy on the region of Neck and Head.

Treatment of Leukoplakia

The main treatment of this condition focuses at getting rid of these Blisters. It includes the removal of Blisters and the irritation that may lead to the development of these Blisters.

The Blisters or Lesions may be removed with the surgical operation, which is done with the effect of local Anesthesia at hospital. The Lesions are removed with the Scalpels, Laser or with the cold probes that may remove Cancerous Cells by freezing them. These Blisters may recur.

The patients should do as follows to reduce the irritation of Skin, where Blisters are found:

  • Stop smoking
  • Stop using Tobacco or snuff it in any form
  • Stop consuming Alcohol

In many of the patients, quitting the intake of smoke and Alcohol may resolve this disorder. People suffering from this disease need to have early treatment like that of rough teeth, fillings and other related problems. The Hair Leukoplakia does not need any treatment.

Prognosis of Leukoplakia

This condition is found to be harmless. The symptoms of this disease may resolve in few weeks to months. The most successful treatment is the removal of Blister and other related discomforts.

Sometimes, this condition may become Cancerous. Cancerous patches are then treated with the help of Surgery.

Leukoplakia and Cancer

It is a gentle condition. About 4% of people, suffering from this condition may lead to Cancer. It is the worst complication of this disease. The chances of Cancer are highest in the Idiopathic Leukoplakia. About 5 people out of every 100 may suffer from Cancer in the future. The risks are high in people who intake Tobacco and smoke.

Hairy Leukoplakia is a form of this disease that may not lead to the Oral Cancer.

Prevention of Leukoplakia

This condition may be prevented as follows:

  • Limiting the intake of Tobacco, Alcohol and Smoking
  • Avoiding all kinds of products that may contain Tobacco
  • Intake of Beta-Carotene
  • Intake of vegetables including Tomatoes, Fish Oil, Olive Oil and other Citrus fruits
  • Avoid exposure to Sunlight

Home Remedies for Leukoplakia

Some home remedies can also help in the treatment of Leukoplakia including:

  • Green Tea
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Vitamin supplements

If you see any Lesion that looks like Leukoplakia or Hairy Leukoplakia, don’t ignore them, urgently consult a doctor and get it checked because timely diagnosis and treatment may save you from future complications and help in the faster recovery.

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