Background: Although oral lichen planus (OLP) is a relatively common disorder, reports comprising large numbers of patients with the disease are lacking in the dermatology literature. Objective and Methods: The purpose of this investigation was to describe the clinical characteristics of 723 patients with biopsy-proven OLP who were followed up from 6 months to 8 years (mean, 4.5 years). Results: Of the 723 patients, 75% were women and 25% men. The erosive form of the disease was the predominant type in 40% of patients at initial presentation, and symptoms were present in the majority of patients with all forms of the disease. Isolated gingival lichen planus was observed in 8.6% of patients. Precipitating factors that resulted in an exacerbation of the disease were frequently noted and included stress, foods, dental procedures, systemic illness, and poor oral hygiene. In 195 patients prospectively screened, no liver abnormalities or antibodies to hepatitis B or C were detected. Oral squamous cell carcinoma developed in 6 patients (0.8%) at sites previously diagnosed by clinical examination as erosive or erythematous lichen planus. Conclusions: Patients with OLP usually display lesions with distinctive clinical morphology and characteristic distribution but may also present with a confusing array of forms and patterns mimicking other diseases. Because patients with OLP may be at an increased risk for the development of squamous cell carcinoma, periodic follow-up is mandatory to detect malignant transformation. Routine screening of American patients with OLP for hepatitis C and other liver abnormalities does not appear to be warranted as in Italian and Japanese patients with OLP. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2002;46:207-14.)
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