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Does Oral Leukoplakia Mean that I'm Going to Develop Cancer?

Posted on 1/20/2016 by Janie Bell
A man holding a can of chewing tobacco; and is suffering from oral leukoplakia!If your dentist tells you that he has found signs of oral leukoplakia in your mouth, this can be distressing news, especially when he tells you that these are precancerous cells. What does this finding mean for your future?

What is Oral Leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia is a gray-white or whitish patch that is found inside of the mouth and cannot be wiped off. They usually develop slowly over the course of a week or two, and while they are rarely cancerous, a biopsy might be needed just to make sure. This condition is most commonly found in the mouths of people that use tobacco.

What Are the Chances that Leukoplakia Will Become Cancerous?

In a vast majority of cases, leukoplakia will be benign. On average only 4-5% of these patches will develop into cancer, but certain patches are more likely to become malignant, including those found:

•  On the lip
•  Under the tongue
•  On the floor of the mouth
•  On the tongue

What Can Be Done to Treat Leukoplakia?

Most instances of leukoplakia will resolve on their own in a matter of weeks. However, if irritation caused the condition to begin with, you might need to alter your behaviors. Stop smoking or drinking alcohol if your dentist believes that these issues may have contributed to the growth of the patches.

Can Oral Leukoplakia Be Prevented?

Giving up smoking is the major way that leukoplakia can be prevented. Sun exposure to the lips is also a concern, so if you will be spending time outdoors, make sure that you protect yourself with sunscreen and lip balm that contains sun protectant.

You should also be sure to visit with your dentist regularly. In addition to providing an oral cancer exam, a regular dental appointment can catch the signs or leukoplakia early to make sure nothing more sinister is going on in your mouth.

So please contact us today to learn more about oral leukoplakia.
D. Ian Bell, D.D.S.
Advanced Aesthetic, Restorative & Family Dentistry
Bellevue-Redmond Professional Center

15613 Bel-Red Rd, Suite A
Bellevue, WA 98008-2348
(425) 883-8333
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