What is a Papilloma?

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  • Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A Papilloma is a benign tumor known to grow in an outward direction. It produces frond-like tumors that can develop anywhere on the body. The most common places for a papilloma can be the neck, upper chest, groin, and the armpits. As these tumors are not malignant, they are usually not considered dangerous. Surgery can be done to remove a papilloma, but only when it causes discomfort or pain.

An Intraductal papilloma develops in the breast. It grows within the breast tissue and produces a small wart-like bump. These are mainly made up of fibrous tissues and can form inside of the milk ducts. Occasionally, a papilloma can cause a milk duct to burst, causing clear or bloody discharge to emerge from the nipple. When the tiny tumors form anywhere else inside of the breast, they often go unnoticed.

A small wart-like tumor is often referred to as a papilloma because of its appearance. While these are not considered cancerous, they can develop into cancers because they are caused by a virus known to cause cancer in some parts of the body. Warts that form on the hands or feet will probably not develop into cancer. If a papilloma forms on the genitals or in the throat, however, it can be considered carcinogenic.


Papilloma warts that form on the genitals are often referred to as a human papilloma virus (HPV), and these can lead to cancer. HPV is typically thought to be sexually transmitted, but the initial cause of the viral infection cannot be determined. In most cases, an HPV infection goes unnoticed because it is asymptomatic. The infection can clear up by itself over a period of time. If the infection does not clear up by itself, it can cause cellular damage and progress into cancer.

Oral human papilloma virus can also develop into cancer. This can occur when the disease comes in contact with the base of the tongue or the tonsils. Heavy alcohol and tobacco use can increase the chances of getting this type of virus.

One third of all types of human papilloma virus are spread by physical contact. This condition is more likely to effect people with damaged immune systems. Using oral contraceptives, having more than one sexual partner, and cigarette smoking can significantly increase the risk for human papilloma virus.


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HPV virus stands for human papillomavirus. When most people think about HPV they think about genital warts. There are actually many types of human papillomavirus but just 40 of them cause genital warts. The CDC says that even if you only have sex with one person in your life you will probably get HPV, because the virus is so common. The virus can be transmitted even when the infected person has no symptoms at all. Some types of human papillomavirus can lead to cancer.

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