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-CONTEXT- Specialist explains leukoplakia and its effects

May 26th, 2008 · No Comments

In order to better understand former president Alberto Fujimori’s current condition of leukoprakia, fujimoriontrial.org recently talked to Dr. Mark Price, an American dermatologist who specializes in the treatment of skin cancer in Houston, Texas. Though leukoplakia is generally treated by oral or ear, nose and throat specialists, Dr. Price was able to share with us basic information about the condition:

“For most people, leukoplakia is not serious, only around 3% of patients develop cancer from this. Most people could have this for years before developing invasive cancer. If someone only recently developed this, usually they would have only white patches on the gums or the inside of the cheeks or lips that might sting or burn when eating, most would not have bleeding unless the condition had been present for months or years. The cause is usually chronic irritation from tobacco smoking and if the patient quits the condition will often resolve with no treatment. A few millimeter spots would probably cause no symptoms whatsoever, certainly not bleeding or drowsiness, at most a very minor stinging or burning sensation. If the condition was severe it could be treated with minor surgery, laser, or cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen, all of which would heal in 2 weeks. These would usually be done under local anesthesia and a 70 year old could typically tolerate this without any problem. Someone with leukoplakia could typically perform [their usual routine] normally, with the exception of possible minor pain during eating. Someone with leukoplakia should have no problem attending a trial.”

Since Fujimori’s first outbreak of leukoplakia happened 10 years ago, it’s quite possible that his present outbreak is more severe and may even cause bleeding. However, it also seems possible that the condition has returned due to the former president’s own negligence toward his health. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that leukoplakia is caused by “sources of chronic irritation, including smoking or other tobacco use, and by rough edges on teeth, dentures or fillings.” Thus Fujimori’s prison regime should have absolutely no negative effect on this condition. Moreover, it is a condition that can be easily treated and cured. 

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