Most often, your dentist diagnoses leukoplakia by examining the patches in your mouth and ruling out other possible causes. To test for early signs of cancer, your dentist may:
- Remove a tissue sample (biopsy) for analysis. This involves removing cells from the surface of the lesion with a small, spinning brush (oral brush biopsy) or surgically removing the entire leukoplakia patch (excisional biopsy) if the patch is small.
- Send the tissue for lab analysis. A highly specialized imaging system allows a pathologist to detect abnormal cells.
If the biopsy is positive and your dentist performed an excisional biopsy that removed the entire leukoplakia patch, you may not need further treatment. If the patch is large, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon or ENT specialist for treatment.
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.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Reamy BV, et al. Common tongue conditions in primary care. American Family Physician. 2010;81:627.
- 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.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.