Oral lichen planus: patient profile, disease progression and treatment responses.
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Chainani-Wu N, Silverman S Jr, Lozada-Nur F, Mayer P, Watson JJ.
Source: Department of Stomatology, School of Dentistry, University of California, San Francisco, USA.
BACKGROUND: Oral lichen planus, or OLP, is a common mucocutaneous immunological disease. The objective of this study was to describe the patient profile, disease progression and treatment responses.
METHODS: The authors conducted a retrospective, descriptive study using information from patient records at a tertiary referral center. The study included 229 patients with OLP who were seen in the oral medicine clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, between September 1996 and August 2000, for the first time or for a follow-up visit. Signs and symptoms at various clinic visits were quantified. Responses to treatment and disease progression were determined by comparing scores with baseline scores.
RESULTS: The mean age at onset of the disease was 55 years, and 154 (67 percent) of the patients were female. Symptoms generally correlated directly with the severity of OLP forms, which ranged from reticular to erosive. Corticosteroids were effective in reducing symptoms, healing ulcers and reducing erythema. At last follow-up, 65 percent of the patients had the same type of OLP seen initially or the disease had progressed to a more severe type, while 35 percent of patients had less-severe forms than that seen at the initial visit. Four patients (1.7 percent) developed oral squamous-cell carcinoma during the follow-up period.
CONCLUSIONS: OLP is a chronic disease with no known cure. Symptoms can improve with corticosteroids; however, the lack of long-term (that is, lifetime) treatment compliance and the adverse side effects of the drugs limit optimal results.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Patients with OLP should be treated if symptoms are significant. Follow-up–including supervision of medication use and monitoring of side effects, as well as periodic examinations for possible malignant transformation–is necessary.