What is squamous cell papilloma?
Squamous cell papilloma may be defined as a small benign (non-cancerous) growth that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells) that are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin (epidermis), the passages of the respiratory and digestive tract and in the lining of hollow organs of the body.
Squamous cell papilloma is caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). When the papillomas are found on the skin they are more commonly referred to as warts or verrucas. And papillomas occurring on the genital tract are known as genital warts. Squamous cell papillomas may also occur in many other parts of the body. Squamous cell papilloma has been investigated as a disease entity on their own in the mouth and throat, esophagus (digestive tract), respiratory tract and conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the eye).
Squamous cell papilloma of the mouth and throat
This may occur at any time throughout life but is usually diagnosed in people between 30-50 years old. The lesion may affect any part of the oral surface but is usually found on the tongue, inside the surface of the cheeks, and lips.
Clinical features of squamous cell papilloma
A single lesion is most common and appears as a soft, pedunculated mass (supported on a stem or stalk) with numerous finger-like projections. The projections may be long and pointy or short and rounded if keratin (skin-firming protein) has built-up around the lesion. Less keratinized lesions are pink or red in color and resemble a raspberry, whilst heavily keratinized lesions are white and look like the head of cauliflower.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most papilloma. For some papillomas though, HPV is not the main cause. One example is an inverted papilloma of the urinary tract, which research has linked to smoking and other potential causes.
For papillomas of the skin, where HPV is known to be the cause, skin damage can promote the development of a papilloma. Scratching at or picking a wart can also lead to further infection. However, the growth itself cannot spread to another location.
While there are links between HPV and cancer, especially cervical cancer, researchers believe that it takes between 10 and 30 years for HPV to develop into a malignant condition. Less than 50 percent trusted Source of precancerous cervical lesions from HPV makes the transition.
Many papillomas do not produce any symptoms beyond irritation. They can cause worry and impact self-esteem in some people, due to their appearance. Only a few papillomas produce medical symptoms.
Papillomas of the female breast duct can cause watery or bloody discharge to leave the nipple. A single leaking papilloma in the breast is likely no closer to becoming cancerous, and treatment can remove these papillomas.
A papilloma that forms inside the nose or sinuses can cause more problemsTrusted Source as a result of its location. The lump is not malignant but might push against nearby structures, including the eye. Again, removal of the lump is possible and can help relieve any symptoms.
When a papilloma or group of papillomas grow in the larynx, it can obstruct the process of breathing. This causes a rare condition known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, which occurs mostly in children.
Symptoms include hoarseness, a quiet or weak cry, and airway obstruction, in severe instances. This can also return after treatment or transform into a malignant tumor. Because of this, it might become necessary to treat recurrent respiratory papillomatosis multiple times.
Oral papillomas are painless and may be left untreated. They appear not to change in size, spread to other parts of the oral cavity, or turn into malignant tumors. If treatment is indicated then conservative surgical excision that removes the head and the base of the lesion may be performed. Recurrence is unlikely.
Papillomas found on the nasal or throat regions although sharing the same clinical features and histology as oral papillomas, differ in that usually more than one lesion is present, they proliferate continuously over time and often recur. In some cases, papillomas in the throat region may proliferate so much that they cause life-threatening asphyxiation (prevent breathing).
Whether a papilloma lump or lesion needs treatment depends on its location and whether it is causing problems there. A papilloma is often harmless and does not require treatment. A doctor will likely not even discover internal papillomas unless they encounter the wart while investigating another issue.
When a papilloma does need treatment, it is by destruction or removal. Doctors can treat warts on the skin using the following methods:
- cautery, which involves burning off the tissue and then scraping it away using curettage
- excision, in which a doctor surgically removes the papilloma
- laser surgery, a procedure that destroys the wart using high-energy light from a laser
- cryotherapy, or freezing of the tissue
- applying liquid nitrogen onto warts or injecting them into the papilloma
Drugs applied to papilloma tissue on the skin are also used to destroy warts. Examples include:
Doctors might prescribe others, depending on the type of wart.
Breast papilloma treatment
A doctor can easily remove a papilloma of the breast and send it for a biopsy. These tests can confirm that it is a benign growth.
They might not completely remove the breast papillomas. Instead, a sample of the growth might be taken for testing. A doctor will test this using a biopsyTrusted Source, taking away part of the tissue after the area has been numbed with an anesthetic.
Genital wart treatment
The treatment options for genital warts are similar to those for skin warts. Either surgical or chemical removal can help. Dermatologists recommend that they should treat papillomas on the genitals. However, this is not compulsory. Do not attempt non-prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) treatment at home without medical advice.
Frequently Asked Questions about Papilloma
How can my child get HPV?
Exposure can happen with any kind of adolescent experimentation that involves genital contact with someone who has HPV. Intercourse isn’t necessary, but it’s the most common way to get the virus.
While your child may not be at risk now, the risk for getting HPV increases as they get older. That’s why it’s important to learn how you can help protect your child from HPV sooner rather than later.
Can my son get HPV?
Yes, males can get HPV, too. In fact, HPV can cause anal cancer and genital warts in males. For most people, HPV clears on its own. But, for others who don’t clear the virus, it could cause certain cancers and other diseases. Also, because there’s no routine HPV screening test recommended for males, there’s no way to know if your son has been exposed to the virus.
How can I tell if my child has HPV?
HPV often has no visible signs or symptoms. Anyone can get the virus without even knowing it—and then pass it on.
Does HPV cause cancers and diseases?
Yes, HPV is a virus that can cause certain cancers and diseases. For females, certain types of HPV can cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancer and genital warts. For males, certain types of HPV can cause anal cancer and genital warts.
How is HPV linked to genital warts?
Approximately 3 out of 4 people will get genital warts after having any kind of genital contact with someone who has genital warts. Treatment for genital warts can be painful (for example, freezing or applying medicine to warts) and, even after treatment, genital warts can come back. In fact, approximately 25% of all cases return within 3 months.
How is HPV linked to cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of HPV. When a female is infected with these types of HPV and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the cervix. If these abnormal cells are not found early through routine cervical cancer screening and treated, cervical cancer can develop. The highest rate of genital HPV infection is found in sexually active females who are younger than 25 years old.
Is there a treatment for HPV?
No, there are currently no available medicines that treat HPV infection. However, there are treatments for the HPV-related diseases that may develop. Talk to your child’s doctor to learn how to help prevent certain cancers and diseases later in life for both males and females.
At what age should my child get vaccinated?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for both boys and girls at age 11 or 12, but it may be given as early as 9 years of age. While 11 and 12 are the recommended ages for routine vaccination, females who are 13–26 and males who are 13–21 may still be able to catch up and receive the HPV vaccination. Talk to your child’s doctor.
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