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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Interventions for treating oral leukoplakia to prevent oral cancer

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (86th percentile)

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1 blog
64 X users
2 Facebook pages
5 Wikipedia pages


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188 Mendeley
Interventions for treating oral leukoplakia to prevent oral cancer
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd001829.pub4
Pubmed ID

Giovanni Lodi, Roberto Franchini, Saman Warnakulasuriya, Elena Maria Varoni, Andrea Sardella, Alexander R Kerr, Antonio Carrassi, L CI MacDonald, Helen V Worthington


Oral leukoplakia is a relatively common oral lesion that, in a small proportion of people, precedes the development of oral cancer. Most leukoplakias are asymptomatic; therefore, the primary objective of treatment should be to prevent onset of cancer. This review updates our previous review, published in 2006. To assess the effectiveness, safety and acceptability of treatments for leukoplakia in preventing oral cancer. We searched the following electronic databases: Cochrane Oral Health's Trials Register (to 16 May 2016), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (the Cochrane Library, 2016, Issue 4), MEDLINE Ovid (1946 to 16 May 2016), Embase Ovid (1980 to 16 May 2016) and CancerLit via PubMed (1950 to 16 May 2016). We searched the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (to 10 February 2015), ClinicalTrials.gov (to 16 May 2016) and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for ongoing trials (to 16 May 2016). We placed no restrictions on the language or date of publication when searching electronic databases. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that enrolled people with a diagnosis of oral leukoplakia and compared any treatment versus placebo or no treatment. We collected data using a data extraction form. Oral cancer development, demonstrated by histopathological examination, was our primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were clinical resolution of the lesion, improvement of histological features and adverse events. We contacted trial authors for further details when information was unclear. When valid and relevant data were available, we conducted a meta-analysis of the data using a fixed-effect model when we identified fewer than four studies with no heterogeneity. For dichotomous outcomes, we calculated risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We assessed risk of bias in studies by using the Cochrane tool. We assessed the overall quality of the evidence by using standardised criteria (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group (GRADE)). We included 14 studies (909 participants) in this review. Surgical interventions, including laser therapy and cryotherapy, have never been studied by means of an RCT that included a no treatment or placebo arm. The included trials tested a range of medical and complementary treatments, in particular, vitamin A and retinoids (four studies); beta carotene or carotenoids (three studies); non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), specifically ketorolac and celecoxib (two studies); herbal extracts (four studies), including tea components, a Chinese herbal mixture and freeze-dried black raspberry gel; bleomycin (one study); and Bowman-Birk inhibitor (one study).We judged one study to be at low risk of bias, seven at unclear risk and six at high risk. In general, we judged the overall quality of the evidence to be low or very low, so findings are uncertain and further research is needed.Five studies recorded cancer incidence, only three of which provided useable data. None of the studies provided evidence that active treatment reduced the risk of oral cancer more than placebo: systemic vitamin A (RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.01 to 2.05; 85 participants, one study); systemic beta carotene (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.24 to 2.09; 132 participants, two studies); and topical bleomycin (RR 3.00, 95% CI 0.32 to 27.83; 20 participants, one study). Follow-up ranged between two and seven years.Some individual studies suggested effectiveness of some proposed treatments, namely, systemic vitamin A, beta carotene and lycopene, for achieving clinical resolution of lesions more often than placebo. Similarly, single studies found that systemic retinoic acid and lycopene may provide some benefit in terms of improvement in histological features. Some studies also reported a high rate of relapse.Side effects of varying severity were often described; however, it seems likely that interventions were well accepted by participants because drop-out rates were similar between treatment and control groups. Surgical treatment for oral leukoplakia has not been assessed in an RCT that included a no treatment or placebo comparison. Nor has cessation of risk factors such as smoking been assessed. The available evidence on medical and complementary interventions for treating people with leukoplakia is very limited. We do not currently have evidence of a treatment that is effective for preventing the development of oral cancer. Treatments such as vitamin A and beta carotene may be effective in healing oral lesions, but relapses and adverse effects are common. Larger trials of longer duration are required to properly evaluate the effects of leukoplakia treatments on the risk of developing oral cancer. High-quality research is particularly needed to assess surgical treatment and to assess the effects of risk factor cessation in people with leukoplakia.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 64 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 188 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 188 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 6 3%
Student > Master 6 3%
Researcher 5 3%
Professor 5 3%
Student > Bachelor 4 2%
Other 11 6%
Unknown 151 80%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 21 11%
Nursing and Health Professions 3 2%
Engineering 3 2%
Computer Science 2 1%
Psychology 2 1%
Other 3 2%
Unknown 154 82%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 53. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 21 September 2021.
All research outputs
of 25,595,500 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13,156 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 380,971 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 247 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,595,500 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 13,156 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.8. This one has done well, scoring higher than 88% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 380,971 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 247 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its contemporaries.