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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Your Question

My sister has had vulvar leukoplakia for 12 years. The problem remains stable. The infection area does not expand and is difficult to recognize, as it is only 1 cm. Sometimes the area is itching. Could you let us know about treatment methods for this disease? Is surgery needed? Is the disease getting serious?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How might leukoplakia be treated?

For most people, removing the source of irritation is important and often causes the lesion to disappear.[1] For example, if tobacco use is thought to be the cause, stopping tobacco use usually clears the condition.[2] Dental causes such as rough teeth or fillings should be treated as soon as possible.[1] When this is not effective or if the lesions show early signs of cancer, treatment may include removing the patches.[2] The lesion is usually removed in the health care provider's office using local anesthesia. Leukoplakia on the vulva is treated in the same way as oral lesions.[1] Recurrences are common, so follow-up visits with a physician are recommended.[2]
Last updated: 5/21/2012

What is the prognosis for leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia usually does not cause complications or permanent damage.[2][1] Sores often clear up a few weeks or months after the source of irritation is removed. Although most leukoplakia patches are benign (non-cancerous), a small percentage show early signs of cancer, and many cancers of the mouth occur next to areas of leukoplakia.[2] Even after leukoplakia patches are removed, the risk of oral cancer remains higher than in the general population.[2] Prognosis is better when leukoplakia is found and treated early.[2]
Last updated: 5/21/2012