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J Clin Laser Med Surg. 2004 Feb;22(1):27-33.

Management of oral leukoplakia by laser surgery: relation between recurrence and malignant transformation and clinicopathological features.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Shakaihoken Kobe Central Hospital, Kobe, Japan.



The aim of the present study was to assess the clinical usefulness of laser surgery for oral leukoplakia.


Recurrence and/or malignanT transformation of oral leukoplakia have occasionally been observed following laser surgery. It is reported that the rate of recurrence was 7.7-38.1%, while malignant transformation was 2.6-9%.


A total of 154 oral leukoplakias from 116 patients were treated in our department. Comparisons with the rate of recurrence, malignant transformation and clinical futures, epithelial dysplasia, location, and treatment procedure were examined. To evaluate recurrence and malignant transformation, the cases were restricted to those with a minimum follow-up of 6 months.


A total of 97 lesions fulfilled this criterion. The rate of recurrence had no association with the location or the epithelial dysplasia, although it differed with the treatment procedure. The rate of recurrence in laser surgery was approximately 29%. Malignant transformation was observed in four of 97 lesions. They were observed in 13.6% of tongue cases and 1.8% of gingival cases. Three of four lesions were treated with excision surgery, and the remaining one treated with laser vaporization. Only 1.2% malignant transformation in laser surgery was revealed.


Laser excision is suitable for leukoplakia cases on non-keratinized epithelia (i.e., the tongue and buccal mucosa), while laser vaporization is suitable for the gingival cases. Management of oral leukoplakia prevents not only recurrence and malignant transformation, but also postoperative dysfunction. We believe that laser surgery is an excellent procedure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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