Papillomas are benign epithelial tumors that are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are the most common benign neoplasms affecting the larynx and upper respiratory tract. Malignant degeneration to squamous cell carcinoma can occur, but is very rare. The overall prevalence ranges from 2 per 100,000 adults to 4.5 per 100,000 children. Thus, over 10,000 Americans suffer from respiratory papillomas.
Laryngeal papillomas are similar to verrucae on the skin (common wart) and condyloma acuminatum, or genital warts. Infection with the virus is ubiquitous. Using highly sensitive detection methods such as the polymerase chain reaction, estimates of infection with HPV range from 60 to 80% of women of childbearing age. Why some infected people develop clinical expression of papilloma (respiratory, genital, or cutaneous) and some people never develop clinical disease remains uncertain.
The reality is that some individuals appear to be susceptible to the virus and others do not. Although some individuals can acquire the virus through intimate contact, the virus can be transmitted from mother to fetus and laryngeal (respiratory) papillomatosis is NOT considered a sexually transmitted disease.
Symptoms of papilloma vary based on the severity of disease and your voice demands. You will possibly notice:
In children, symptoms are different and may include:
Because of their propensity to recur after surgical removal, the disorder is often referred to as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).
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