Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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