Leukoplakia usually doesn't cause permanent damage to tissues in your mouth. However, oral cancer is a potentially serious complication of leukoplakia. Oral cancers often form near leukoplakia patches, and the patches themselves may show cancerous changes. Even after leukoplakia patches are removed, the risk of oral cancer remains.
Hairy leukoplakia, on the other hand, isn't painful and isn't likely to lead to cancer. But it may indicate HIV infection or AIDS.
July 26, 2013
- Goldstein BG, et al. Oral lesions. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Detecting oral cancer: A guide for health care professionals. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/OralCancer/DetectingOralCancer.htm. Accessed May 1, 2013.
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- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed May 6, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Quick Medical Diagnosis & Treatment. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=513. Accessed May 6, 2013.
- Sullivan JL. Clinical manifestations and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Usatine RP, et al. The Color Atlas of Family Medicine. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=678. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Sheridan PJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 23, 2013.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2013.
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