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Oral Oncol. 1997 Sep;33(5):291-301.

Oral leukoplakia: a clinicopathological review.

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Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery/Pathology, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit/ACTA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Leukoplakia is the most common premalignant or potentially malignant lesion of the oral mucosa. It seems preferable to use the term leukoplakia as a clinical term only. When a biopsy is taken, the term leukoplakia should be replaced by the diagnosis obtained histologically. The annual percentage of malignant transformation varies in different parts of the world, probably as a result of differences in tobacco and dietary habits. Although epithelial dysplasia is an important predictive factor of malignant transformation, it should be realized that not all dysplastic lesions will become malignant. On the other hand non-dysplastic lesions may become malignant as well. In some parts of the world the tongue and the floor of the mouth can be considered to be high-risk sites with regard to malignant transformation of leukoplakia, while this does not have to be the case in other parts of the world. The cessation of tobacco habits, being the most common known aetiological factor of oral leukoplakia, has been shown to be an effective measure with regard to the incidence of leukoplakia and, thereby, the incidence of oral cancer as well. Screening for oral precancer may be indicated in individuals at risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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