Leukoplakia

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'Leukoplakia'
ICD-10 K13.2, N48.0, N88.0, N89.4, N90.4
ICD-9 478.5, 528.6, 530.83, 607.0, 622.2, 623.1, 624.0
DiseasesDB 7438
MedlinePlus 001046
MeSH C04.834.512

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kiran Singh, M.D. [2]


Overview

Leukoplakia is a condition of the mouth that involves the formation of white leathery spots on the mucous membranes of the tongue and inside of the mouth. It is not a specific disease entity and is diagnosed by exclusion of diseases that may cause similar white lesions like candidiasis or lichen planus.

Epidemiology and Demographics

Leukoplakia affects less than one percent of the population, and is most common in adults within the 50-70 years age group.

Diagnosis

Common Causes

The cause in most cases is unknown, but many are related to tobacco use and chronic irritation. Bloodroot, otherwise known as sanguinaria, is also believed to be associated with causing leukoplakia.[1] A small proportion of cases, particularly those involving the floor of the mouth or the undersurface of the tongue is associated with a risk of cancer.

The so-called hairy leukoplakia associated with HIV infection and other diseases of severe immune deficiency does not have risks for cancer.

Physical Examination

Ear Nose and Throat

Vulvar leukoplakia

Differential diagnosis

Oral leukoplakia must be differentiated from other mouth lesions such as oral candidiasis and aphthous ulcer

Disease Presentation Risk Factors Diagnosis Affected Organ Systems Important features Picture
Diseases predominantly affecting the oral cavity
Oral Candidiasis
  • Denture users
  • As a side effect of medication, most commonly having taken antibiotics. Inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of lung conditions (e.g, asthma or COPD) may also result in oral candidiasis which may be reduced by regularly rinsing the mouth with water after taking the medication.
  • Clinical diagnosis
  • Confirmatory tests rarely needed
Localized candidiasis

Invasive candidasis

Tongue infected with oral candidiasis - By James Heilman, MD - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=11717223.jpg
Herpes simplex oral lesions
  • Stress
  • Recent URTI
  • Female sex
  • The symptoms of primary HSV infection generally resolve within two weeks
Oral herpes simplex infection - By James Heilman, MD - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=19051042.jpg
Aphthous ulcers
  • Painful, red spot or bump that develops into an open ulcer
  • Being a female
  • Between the ages of 10-40
  • Family history of aphthous ulcers
  • Physical examination
  • Diagnosis of exclusion
  • Oral cavity
  • Self-limiting , Pain decreases in 7 to 10 days, with complete healing in 1 to 3 weeks
By Ebarruda - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=7903358
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma - By Luca Pastore, Maria Luisa Fiorella, Raffaele Fiorella, Lorenzo Lo Muzio - http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/showImageLarge.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050212.g001, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15252632
Leukoplakia
  • Vulvar lesions occur independent of oral lesions
Leukoplakia - By Aitor III - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9873087
Melanoma
Oral melanoma - By Emmanouil K Symvoulakis, Dionysios E Kyrmizakis, Emmanouil I Drivas, Anastassios V Koutsopoulos, Stylianos G Malandrakis, Charalambos E Skoulakis and John G Bizakis - Symvoulakis et al. Head & Face Medicine 2006 2:7 doi:10.1186/1746-160X-2-7 (Open Access), [1], CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9839811
Fordyce spots
Fordyce spots - Por Perene - Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19772899
Burning mouth syndrome
Torus palatinus
Torus palatinus - By Photo taken by dozenist, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=846591
Diseases involving oral cavity and other organ systems
Behcet's disease
Crohn's disease
Agranulocytosis
Syphilis[5]
Coxsackie virus
  • Symptomatic treatment
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
Chicken pox
Chickenpox - By James Heilman, MD - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52872565
Measles
  • Unvaccinated individuals[6][7]
  • Crowded and/or unsanitary conditions
  • Traveling to less developed and developing countries
  • Immunocompromized
  • Winter and spring seasons
  • Born after 1956 and never fully vaccinated
  • Health care workers

Treatment

The treatment of leukoplakia mainly involves avoidance of predisposing factors like smoking, tobacco and betel chewing, alcohol,and removal of chronic irritants like sharp edges of teeth. In suspicious cases, a biopsy is also taken, and surgical excision done if pre-cancerous changes or frank cancer is detected.

References

  1. Leukoplakia, (pdf format) hosted by the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. Page accessed on December 19, 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Dermatology Atlas". 
  3. Ann M. Gillenwater, Nadarajah Vigneswaran, Hanadi Fatani, Pierre Saintigny & Adel K. El-Naggar (2013). "Proliferative verrucous leukoplakia (PVL): a review of an elusive pathologic entity!". Advances in anatomic pathology. 20 (6): 416–423. PMID 24113312. doi:10.1097/PAP.0b013e3182a92df1.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  4. Andrès E, Zimmer J, Affenberger S, Federici L, Alt M, Maloisel F. (2006). "Idiosyncratic drug-induced agranulocytosis: Update of an old disorder.". Eur J Intern Med. 17 (8): 529–35.  Text "pmid 17142169" ignored (help)
  5. title="By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_manual_of_syphilis_and_the_venereal_diseases%2C_(1900)_(14595882378).jpg"
  6. Feikin DR, Lezotte DC, Hamman RF, Salmon DA, Chen RT, Hoffman RE (2000). "Individual and community risks of measles and pertussis associated with personal exemptions to immunization.". JAMA. 284 (24): 3145–50. PMID 11135778. 
  7. Ratnam S, West R, Gadag V, Williams B, Oates E (1996). "Immunity against measles in school-aged children: implications for measles revaccination strategies.". Can J Public Health. 87 (6): 407–10. PMID 9009400. 

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