Leukoplakia is the most common, potentially malignant disorder of the oral mucosa with a frequency ranging between 0.1-6% worldwide, especially in the middle-aged and the elderly, showing equal distribution in both sexes.

It is a descriptive clinical term for any white, non-detached white plaque that cannot be categorized as a clinical condition based on any clinical or histopathological criteria.

In terms of etiology, many factors have been implicated in the development of such lesions, most notably smoking and consuming alcohol.

The lesion shows a high rate of malignant transformation in squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth estimated to be between 4-6 %.

Regarding treatment, the cessation of any possible contributing factors to the condition, as well as the elimination by various therapeutic means of any intraoral lesions and regular monitoring are the best possible treatment for patients with leukoplakia.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if I have leukoplakia?

The diagnosis is made by an Oral Medicine specialist after a thorough clinical examination and biopsy of the mouth focused on the affected area.

If leukoplakia is diagnosed by clinical examination, why is a biopsy needed?

Using bioptic material, the features of the lesion in question are precisely identified on a histological level. We are more interested in whether the cells show dysplastic characters, i.e. if, based on specific morphological and other criteria, they deviate from the norm, e.g. they are atypical, as well as the degree of dysplasia. Therefore, the pathological examination is of great importance in determining the risk and development of a specific lesion over time.

How is leukoplakia treated?

As mentioned above, the cessation of any possible contributing factors to the condition, as well as the elimination using various therapeutic means of any intraoral lesions, and regular monitoring are the best possible means of treatment for patients with leukoplakia.

Is leukoplakia contagious?

No, it is not an infectious disease. Therefore the possibility of transmission to other people does not exist.

If the leukoplakia is removed in some way, will it reappear?

We cannot guarantee that the excised lesion will not reoccur. However, its removal is the best possible treatment, reducing the possibility of its development and reοccurrence.

Are there other diagnostic tests for leukoplakia beyond clinical examination?

There is a number of available diagnostic methods, or additional evaluation methods. However, more scientific research aiming to verify the reliability of these is required.  Diagnostic, adjuvant assessment methods are available but additional scientific studies are needed to determine their reliability. Currently, meticulous clinical examination is a cornerstone in the diagnosis of leukoplakia-type lesions.

If I smoke fewer cigarettes or if I use an electronic cigarette will it work?

We cannot estimate how many cigarettes constitute overconsumption or normal consumption for different patients, as this depends on the constitution of each person. Regarding the electronic cigarette, it is under investigation as to its possible effects on oral health. The only safe way is to eliminate these habits altogether.