How is leukoplakia treated?
The main goal of treating leukoplakia is to prevent it from becoming cancer. However, treatment is a challenge and results are often mixed. Treatment may remove the lesions, but a fair number of them return.
- Stop using tobacco and alcohol.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Retinoids (vitamin A-based treatments used to treat acne and psoriasis) taken by mouth may help reduce lesions, but relapses and side effects are common.
- Oral (by mouth) Vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements can help clear the white patches, but they will appear again once the person stops taking the supplements.
- Isotretinoin supplements have been found to be more effective than beta-carotene in preventing cancerous changes.
- Removing lesions with surgery. However, there is still a 10% to 20% chance that the lesions will return, and a 3% to 12% chance of developing cancer in the treated areas.
- Removal of lesions by laser.
- Photodynamic therapy (use of light-activated cancer drugs).
- Cryotherapy (use of freezing to remove lesions).
- Electrocauterization (use of an electrically heated needle or other instrument to remove lesions).