Management of potentially malignant disorders: evidence and critique

J Oral Pathol Med. 2008 Feb;37(2):63-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0714.2007.00575.x.


At a workshop coordinated by the WHO Collaborating Centre of Oral Cancer and Precancer in the United Kingdom, issues related to management of patients affected by oral leukoplakia were discussed by an expert group. The consensus views of the working group are presented here. Although removal of a lesion still seems to be the predominant method of treatment by the majority of relevant health care professionals, no randomized controlled trials have been undertaken to test the hypothesis that excision either by scalpel or laser greatly influences the potential for later malignant transformation within the oral mucosa of an affected individual. Results of observational studies indicate that, although surgery may have a beneficial effect, this is not likely to reduce the risk of later recurrence nor malignant transformation at the same or another site. Medical measures that lessen the size, extent or histopathological features of dysplasia within leukoplakia likewise presently do not seem to be of particular promise, as relapse or later malignant transformation can occur, and there is a risk of adverse effects, particularly with systemic agents (which themselves may be contra-indicated in some individuals). While the risk of malignant transformation, and the development of further potentially malignant disease may theoretically be reduced by cessation of risk activities, such as tobacco usage and alcohol consumption, there remain no good studies that demonstrate that such measures significantly reduce such events.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Chemoprevention
  • Cryosurgery
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / therapy*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Precancerous Conditions / therapy*
  • Smoking Prevention