Leukoplakia

With leukoplakia thickened white patches form on gums, the insides of cheeks, the bottom of the mouth and sometimes on the tongue. These patches can't be scraped off.

Doctors don't know what causes leukoplakia but consider chronic irritation from tobacco — whether smoked, dipped or chewed — to be the main culprit in its development.

Most leukoplakia patches are noncancerous, though some show early signs of cancer. Cancers on the bottom of the mouth can occur next to areas of leukoplakia. And white areas mixed in with red areas (speckled leukoplakia) may indicate the potential for cancer.

When to see a doctor

Even though leukoplakia doesn't usually cause discomfort, sometimes it can indicate a more serious condition.

Patient need to consult dentist or primary care professional in case of the following:

●  White plaques or sores in mouth that don't heal on their own within two weeks
 
●  Lumps or white, red or dark patches in mouth
 
●  Persistent changes in the tissues of mouth
 
●  Ear pain when swallowing

Diagnosis

Most often,doctor diagnoses leukoplakia by:

●  Examining the patches in your mouth
 
●  Attempting to wipe off the white patches
 
●  Discussing your medical history and risk factors
 
●  Ruling out other possible causes

Testing for cancer

The doctor will likely test for early signs of cancer by:

Oral brush biopsy. This involves removing cells from the surface of the lesion with a small, spinning brush. This is a non-invasive procedure, but does not always result in a definitive diagnosis.
 
Excisional biopsy. This involves surgically removing tissue from the leukoplakia patch or removing the entire patch if it's small. An excision biopsy is more comprehensive and usually results in a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment

Leukoplakia treatment is most successful when a lesion is found and treated early when it's small. Regular checkups are important as is routinely inspecting your mouth for areas that don't look normal.

For most people, removing the source of irritation ― such as stopping tobacco or alcohol ― clears the condition.

When this isn't effective or if the lesions show early signs of cancer, the treatment plan may involve:

Removal of leukoplakia patches. Patches may be removed using a scalpel, a laser or an extremely cold probe that freezes and destroys cancer cells (cryoprobe).

Follow-up visits to check the area. Once you've had leukoplakia, recurrences are common.

Treating hairy leukoplakia

Usually, you don't need treatment for hairy leukoplakia. The condition often causes no symptoms and isn't likely to lead to mouth cancer.

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With this in focus, Government of India have implemented visa-on-arrival scheme or e-Visa for tourists from select countries which allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons.