Background: Leukoplakia is an asymptomatic and potentially malignant change in the oral mucosa and highfrequencies have been reported among smokers. The present study concerned the prevalence of tobacco useand leukoplakia and also associations between the two. Study design: This cross sectional survey was conductedamongst the Gond tribal population of Kundam Block, Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh state, Central Indiaduring 2007 to 2009. Screening for leukoplakia was conducted by a medical officer with two mouth mirrors.It is only based on visual inspection and oral pathology was not performed. A semi-structured questionnairewas used to collect information on socio-demographic and smoking habits. Prevalence of leukoplakia amongusers and non-users of tobacco was calculated in terms of percentages.
Results: Of 1,552 individuals aged morethan 12 years of age who were screened, 144 (9.3%) were found to have oral leukoplakia. The prevalence ofleukoplakia was significantly elevated among tobacco users as compared to non-users (11% vs 2.5%; p<0.001).The percentage of leukoplakia was almost similar in both tobacco smokers and chewers (9% vs 11%; p=0.304).However, the percentage of leukoplakia was especially high among those chewers who also smoked tobacco(21.9%).
Conclusions: The findings of the present study showed a positive effect of tobacco use and prevalenceof leukoplakia. Also the prevalence was very high among Gond tribe, a marginalized population living in centralIndia. There is a need for effective screening and treatment of leukoplakia in this area.