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Papillomas (Warts)

A raised growth on the surface of the skin or other organ.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Warts

Warts are non-cancerous (benign) skin growths caused by viruses that develop on different parts of the body and can take on various forms. They are contagious and very common: Almost everyone has a wart at some point in their life. Warts can affect people at any age, but are most common among children and young people.

Most warts are harmless and will go away in a few weeks or months on their own. They can be bothersome and unattractive, and some people feel embarrassed. There are a number of different treatments that can speed up the healing process — but they do not always work.

Other growths (seborrheic keratosis) that often appear in older people, and are sometimes referred to as "senile warts," are not contagious. They are also quite harmless, but permanent. This information only deals with viral warts... Read more about Papillomas

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Ethical Challenges with Implementing Prophylactic Vaccines Against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) [Internet]

Background About 300 women get cervical cancer and about 100 die from cervical cancer every year in Norway. Cervical cancer is primarily caused by continuous infection with human papilloma virus (HPV), and over 120 strains of HPV have been identified. About 14 of these are are oncogenic. HPV-16 and HPV-18 can be found in about 70% of of the women with cervical cancer. Most HPV infections will cease by themselves, but where the infections persist, there is an increased risk for cellular changes. There exist vaccines against HPV 16/18, but there is yet no evidence that the vaccine is effective against cervical cancer. This has incited fierce debates on whether to introduce the HPV vaccine in national or statewide vaccination programs. This report aims at highlighting and discussing the moral aspects that are relevant for the decision making process with regards to HPV vaccine.

Antivirals for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is a condition in which wart‐like growths occur in the upper airway of children or adults. This can cause difficulty in breathing or a change in voice. This condition is usually treated by repeated surgery to remove these 'warts', but it has been proposed that additionally using antiviral medications may help this condition. This review found one good quality study of cidofovir (an antiviral agent) injected into the warts at the time of surgical removal. After one year of treatment, however, this study found no benefit of the injected cidofovir when compared to injected salt water solution (placebo). There is still a need for a larger randomised study which includes more patients, and higher doses of cidofovir.

[Efficacy and safety of human papilloma virus vaccine in cervical cancer prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis]

INTRODUCTION: Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. The human papilloma virus (HPV) has been identifed as the etiologic agent of cervical and other anogenital cancers. The aim was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy and safety of HPV vaccines in preventing cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CIN) grades 2 and 3, adenocarcinoma in situ (CIN2+) and cervical cancer.

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Summaries for consumers

Antivirals for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is a condition in which wart‐like growths occur in the upper airway of children or adults. This can cause difficulty in breathing or a change in voice. This condition is usually treated by repeated surgery to remove these 'warts', but it has been proposed that additionally using antiviral medications may help this condition. This review found one good quality study of cidofovir (an antiviral agent) injected into the warts at the time of surgical removal. After one year of treatment, however, this study found no benefit of the injected cidofovir when compared to injected salt water solution (placebo). There is still a need for a larger randomised study which includes more patients, and higher doses of cidofovir.

Photodynamic therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is a condition of the mucosal lining of the upper airway, which leads to multiple benign, wart‐like growths (papilloma). Although not cancerous, it can lead to serious problems, including hoarseness and airway obstruction. The main treatment is repeated surgical removal of the papilloma using a laser or cutting instrument. However, multiple surgical procedures carry the risk of complications and can also result in long‐term scarring. Photodynamic therapy works through the application of a light‐sensitising substance, which is then activated by light of a specific wavelength. A chemical reaction creates powerful active molecules that destroy the papilloma locally. It can be used on its own or as an additional treatment together with surgical removal. It has been proposed that photodynamic therapy slows the growth of the papilloma and results in fewer recurrences and therefore fewer surgical procedures.

Medical and surgical treatments for usual‐type vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (uVIN)

Usual‐type vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (uVIN) is a pre‐malignant condition affecting the vulval skin, which has the potential for progression to vulval cancer. Most patients have distressing symptoms that include itching, burning and soreness of the vulva, and painful intercourse. There may be white, brown, or red colour changes of the skin, breaks in the skin, or skin thickening. Usual‐type VIN is associated with infection with a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV or wart virus). Treatments are aimed at relieving distressing symptoms and ensuring that the condition does not become cancerous. The most common treatment option has been surgery to remove the affected skin areas. Surgery, however, does not guarantee a cure, can be disfiguring, and may result in physical and psychological problems. Alternatives include the use of laser technology to destroy the layer of affected skin, which may give better cosmetic results, but usually does not yield a specimen to exclude cancer. It may also be ineffective in treating uVIN that extends into hair follicles. Non‐surgical treatment alternatives include topical creams and gels, and HPV vaccines. This review aimed to assess the effectiveness and safety of these treatments.

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More about Papillomas

Photo of a child

Also called: Common warts, Verrucae vulgaris, Verruca vulgaris

Other terms to know:
Viral Infections

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