What is Papillomatosis?

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  • Written By: Erin Oxendine
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Papillomatosis is a condition that causes multiple papillomas to develop on the skin or in the membranes of the body. Papillomas are growths similar to warts. These benign tumors form on different areas of the body and can impair the respiratory system. Even though papillomatosis is noncancerous, it can cause serious problems and may require medical treatment.

Doctors believe that papillomatosis is caused by a viral infection spread through contact with the skin. This illness can affect people of all ages and is not limited to any particular demographic. Although it is more common in humans, animals can also develop this virus. In animals, scientists believe the illness is transmitted from other infected animals and insects. It generally appears more in dogs and livestock and may be prevented with early vaccinations.

There are different types of papillomatosis. Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, also known as laryngeal papillomatosis, occurs when the virus grows in the respiratory area. Tumors often show up on the vocal cords, the trachea, and the lungs. While this disease is rare, if left untreated, patients may have problems with their voice box as well as impaired breathing. This is an aggressive form of papillomatosis and can reoccur even after doctors have removed the growths.


Papillomatosis can also develop in the breasts. When this happens, individuals often have single or multiple lesions in the breast ducts and tissue. Since some viral tumors in the breasts have been associated with cancer, physicians recommend examinations for any abnormal lumps or lesions. If the doctor finds suspicious cells or if the tumors are painful, the patient might need surgery to have the tumors removed.

Since surgery is usually a last resort, doctors often use other methods to try to manage these growths. Medication is often the first step in attempting to get rid of the benign tumors. Immune therapy is also another common treatment plan especially for patients who experience reoccurrences.

Generally, the outcome of patients with the papilloma virus is favorable, and scientists believe prevention can also help. Since some forms of this virus are highly contagious and put individuals at a higher risk for cancer, doctors have developed several vaccines that may prevent certain strands of the disease. While the vaccination is shown to be beneficial, individuals interested in getting it may want to check with their doctor first to make sure they meet the criteria for vaccination.


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