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Leukoplakia is marked by the formation of white or gray thickened patches on mucous membranes of cheeks, gums or tongue. The cause for Leukoplakia is still not known. However, it is mainly linked to usage of tobacco and consumption of alcohol. Hairy kind of Leukoplakia is observed during HIV infection which is caused by Epstein-Barr virus. Leukoplakia in long run may lead to oral cancer. Hence, oral examination with the dentist is advisable when the condition is suspected. Dentists send the tissue for biopsy to rule out the possibility of oral cancer. If a biopsy comes back positive for oral cancer, the patch must be removed immediately. This can help prevent its spread.
In a retrospective study conducted in Spain to evaluate 65 patients with oral leukoplakia treated with CO2 laser vaporization, the initial biopsy showed mild/moderate dysplasia in almost half the patients (n = 29, 44.6%) and hyperplasia without dysplasia in around a third of the patients (n = 21, 32.3%). The recurrence and malignant transformation rates were 33.8% (n = 22) and 15.4% (n = 10), respectively. The study revealed that the malignant leukoplakia transformation is independent of treatment, although it seems advisable to treat leukoplakia with or without dysplasia.