Leukoplakia

Description and Etiology

Leukoplakia is typically a white plaque-like formation on the vocal folds. Leukoplakia and hyperkeratosis are considered a precancerous conditions and should be biopsied to rule out malignancy.  The primary cause of leukoplakia and hyperkeratosis is irritation from cigarette smoking, environmental exposure to irritants, alcohol use, and other inhaled drugs. 

  • Perceptual Signs and Symptoms

o      Voice quality

§       Rough

§       Hoarse

  • Features of Visual Assessment

o      White plaque like formation occurring on the vocal fold surface.

o      Depending on the thickness, vibratory behavior of the vocal folds will be affected to differing degrees

  • Management
    • If biopsy is not found to be atypical then,

o      Vocal hygiene counseling

o      Counseling to indicate that unless the chronic irritation is minimized or removed the cell growth could reach a cancerous state

  • Small leukoplakias:

o      Surgical removal usually suffices

  • Patients should be followed for at least 3 to 6 months to monitor for recurrence
  • Patients need to understand the cause and effect relationship between chronic irritation and the risk of recurrence
  • Other treatments

o      Retinyl palmitate

o      Proton-pump inhibitor therapy