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The epithelial precancers are those that carry an increased potential of developing into cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) has accepted the classification of precancers into precancerous lesions and precancerous conditions  Pindborg JJ, Reichart PA, Smith CJ, van der Waal I, (1997). World Health Organisation International Histological Classification of Tumours.Histological Typing of Cancer and Precancer of the Oral Mucosa. 2 ed. Berlin: Springer. Reibel J (2003). Prognosis of oral pre-malignant lesions: significance of clinical, histopathological, and molecular biological characteristics. Crit Rev Oral Biol Med 14: 47-62..

There is general agreement that a precancerous lesion is defined as “a morphologically altered tissue in which cancer is more likely to occur than its apparently normal counterpart”, whereas a precancerous condition is defined as “a generalized state associated with significantly increased risk of cancer”. Examples for precancerous lesions are leukoplakia,, erythroplakia, palatal lesions associated with reverse smoking, and actinic Cheiloses. Examples for precancerous conditions include oral submucous fibrosis, lichen planus, discoid lupus erythematosus, sideropenic dysphagia, epidermolysis bullosa and xeroderma pigmentosa.


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