Oral leukoplakia in a South African sample: A clinicopathological study

R. Chandran, S. Meer*, L. Feller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study analysed differences in clinicopathological features of oral leukoplakia in different racial groups in the greater Johannesburg area of South Africa, with emphasis on the black population. Material and Methods: The retrospective review included cases diagnosed clinically as oral leukoplakia and histologically as hyperkeratosis without dysplasia, hyperkeratosis with mild, moderate or severe dysplasia, and carcinoma in situ from 1990 to 2010. Age, gender, ethnicity, clinical appearance, site of lesion and tobacco smoking habit were recorded. Results: Fourteen per cent of oral leukoplakia occurred in black South Africans compared with 80% in white South Africans. In contrast to whites, blacks were diagnosed with oral leukoplakia at a younger age; there were more men affected than women; and the proportion of idiopathic leukoplakia was greater. There were significantly more blacks (23%) than whites (13%) with non-homogenous leukoplakia and significantly more whites (51%) than blacks (23%) with dysplastic oral leukoplakia. Conclusion: This study suggests that oral leukoplakia, especially non-homogenous and idiopathic forms affects South African blacks less frequently than white South Africans; and in the former, it occurs more in men and at a younger age. These findings may provide some guidance in establishing screening policies for oral cancer, particularly suited for blacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-597
Number of pages6
JournalOral Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Epithelial dysplasia
  • Oral leukoplakia
  • Potentially malignant


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