Dysplastic changes in patients with recurrent laryngeal leukoplakia: Importance of long-term follow-up

Basel Jabarin, Jacob Pitaro, Tal Marom, Limor Muallem-Kalmovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Leukoplakia of the vocal cords may represent a pre-cancerous lesion of the larynx. The management of cases of recurrent leukoplakia with pathologically proven dysplasia is still controversial. Objectives: To present a series of patients with recurrent vocal cord leukoplakia and to examine their malignant transformation rate in relation to the clinical characteristics, risk factors, and histological findings. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted between 1999 and 2017. The study comprised 52 patients with recurrent leukoplakia of the vocal cords who required ≥ 2 direct laryngeal procedures within a minimum of 3 months between each procedure. Malignant transformation rate over follow-up period, risk factors for malignant transformation, and interval to develop laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma were investigated. Results: All patients presented with hoarseness. An average of three procedures per patient was performed (range 2–13). Ten male patients (19.2%) developed squamous cell carcinoma. Of these, four with severe dysplasia developed SCC within 19 months of the first direct laryngoscopy. In the six other patients, SCC developed within an average of 3.7 years. The follow-up period ranged from 9–253 months (mean 109 months). Heavy smoking and severe dysplasia in the first biopsy were found to be significant risk factors for developing squamous cell carcinoma, as was male gender. Conclusions: We showed an increased malignant transformation rate in recurrent leukoplakia cases among heavy smokers and male patients. In addition, severe dysplasia at initial diagnosis was a risk factor for SCC development. Close follow-up of patients with recurrent leukoplakia is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-626
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct laryngoscopy (DL)
  • Larynx
  • Leukoplakia
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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