DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Leukoplakia. Close-up of raised leukoplakia patch- es along the side of a man's tongue. Leukoplakia can occur in the mouth or vulva, and is caused by thickening of tissue in the mucous membrane. It can be triggered by pipe-smoking or rubbing of the tongue against a denture, and is most common in the elderly and people with AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The patches are painless and usually disappear if the cause is removed. Occa- sionally, however, a leukoplakia patch can become cancerous. For this reason the condition is some- times treated by surgical excision under local anaesthetic.
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