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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Leukoplakia is a condition in which thickened, white patches form on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheek, or sometimes on the outer female genitals.[1][2] Although the sores can vary in appearance, they are usually white or gray; thick; and slightly raised with a hard surface.[2] The condition is thought to be caused by irritation, but the cause is not always known.[2] Tobacco is considered to be the main cause of its development in the mouth. Most patches are benign, but a small percentage show early signs of cancer.[1] Removing the source of irritation may cause the condition to go away, but surgery to remove the sore(s) may be necessary in some cases.[2]
Last updated: 5/21/2012


  1. Leukoplakia. Mayo Clinic. November 2, 2010; Accessed 5/21/2012.
  2. Leukoplakia. MedlinePlus. July 20, 2011; Accessed 5/21/2012.
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