The surgical treatment of cancer begins with the treatment of precancerous conditions. Whether we believe in specifying these lesions as precancerous, or whether we feel that they are cancerous from the beginning, nevertheless, there is a period in which they do not present the usual cellular picture of cancer, and in which it is impossible to determine definitely whether they ever will. The eradication of the disease in the early stages brings about a cure of the condition.
The so-called premalignant lesions are not all of the same type, and usually differ in different areas. One of the most striking examples of a benign disease which later becomes malignant is that of leukoplakia, which occurs so frequently on the mucous membrane of the buccal cavity. In many instances, leukoplakia is syphilitic in origin, but in others, it occurs independent of any systemic infection. It often exists for a considerable period
JUDD ES. THE SURGICAL TREATMENT OF CANCER. JAMA. 1925;84(1):10–13. doi:10.1001/jama.1925.02660270014004