There are three very common pre-cancerous conditions that occur with the greatest frequency in the oral cavity.
- Oral Submucous fibrosis
This is by far the most common condition that occurs in the oral cavity. The main causative factor is tobacco. It appears as a white patch that cannot be rubbed off. These patches can appear to be gray or yellowish-white as well and in some cases when tobacco is heavily used, these patches take on a brownish appearance. Unless the lesions are large in size, they do not cause any discomfort to the patient and this is a dangerous sign since they can convert themselves into full-blown cancer without the patient being aware of it.
These lesions have a greater potential to turn cancerous than leukoplakia. In contrast to tobacco being implicated, erythroplakia is often associated with tuberculosis. These lesions appear as bright red patches and sometimes when leukoplakia is concurrently present, it appears as alternating patches of white and red. Again there is no discomfort to the patient unless the lesion becomes infected. If it does, the patient notices bright red patches and may visit the dentist.
This is a very peculiar condition that is more prevalent than the above mentioned ones. Here tobacco is the single biggest causative factor. The mucosa of the cheek and sometimes the lips and even the throat condenses to form white patches that are tight to feel. The patient experiences difficulty in opening the mouth freely and spicy food will produce a burning sensation.