The DNA content in cells of oral leukoplakia, specifically the number of chromosomes, can be used to predict the risk of oral carcinoma, according to study. 123 patients were taken up for research for an average of 8.5 years, found that oral leukoplakia with the normal number of chromosomes — 46 — were unlikely to develop into cancer. Of the 103 patients with leukoplakia with normal DNA content, only three developed cancer.
However, if the number of chromosomes found in the leukoplakia cells is doubled, cancer becomes more likely, the study found. Twelve of 20 patients, or 60 percent, with 92-chromosome cells developed cancer.
The likelihood of developing cancer was found to be greatest in patients with leukoplakia cells containing a number of chromosomes that did not divide evenly by 23, the number of chromosomes received from each parent. According to study results, of the 27 patients with these aneuploid lesions, 21 developed cancer.