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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

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.

Antiviral agents for the treatment of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis: a systematic review of the English-language literature

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of antiviral agents for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) in children and adults.

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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.

Interventions for squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva in HIV‐infected individuals

Conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma, a tumour of the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye, is becoming more common, more aggressive, and affecting more young people, especially women. This pattern is associated with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, exposure to solar radiation, and infection with human papilloma virus (HPV). Various treatment modalities exist, but the recurrence rate is high and the cosmetic outcome of late disease unsightly (Figure 1). Death may occur when the disease spreads to the surrounding structures and the brain. This review was conducted to evaluate the effects of the current interventions. No randomised controlled trials of any interventions for this cancer were found. Current clinical practice appears to be based on case series and case reports. These are weak sources of evidence for the effectiveness of a treatment. Randomised controlled clinical trials are needed.

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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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