What Is Verrucous Carcinoma?Verrucous carcinoma is a rare and distinct type of squamous cell carcinoma characterized by its slow growth, minimal metastatic potential, and warty or verrucous appearance. This type of cancer typically affects the skin, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, genitalia, and sometimes the soles of the feet, where it is known as carcinoma cuniculatum. Despite its expansive growth, verrucous carcinoma tends to be locally invasive without affecting lymph nodes or distant organs.
SymptomsThe symptoms of verrucous carcinoma depend on the tumor’s location but generally include:
- Lesions that are slow-growing, cauliflower-like, and have a rough surface.
- In the oral cavity, a thick, white patch that cannot be wiped away.
- On the skin, a wart-like growth that may be mistaken for a common wart or other benign conditions.
- In the genital area, lesions may resemble genital warts.
- Pain or discomfort may occur if the tumor interferes with bodily functions.
Disease Aetiology (Causes)The exact cause of verrucous carcinoma is not fully understood. However, risk factors associated with its development include:
- Chronic irritation or inflammation.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, particularly for lesions in the genital area and oral cavity.
- Use of tobacco, especially smokeless tobacco in oral verrucous carcinoma.
- Poor oral hygiene.
DiagnosisDiagnosis of verrucous carcinoma typically involves:
- Physical examination to assess the characteristic appearance of the tumor.
- Biopsy to obtain a tissue sample for histopathological examination, which is crucial for distinguishing verrucous carcinoma from other types of squamous cell carcinoma and benign lesions.
- Imaging studies such as CT scans or MRI may be used to evaluate the extent of the disease, especially for tumors in locations like the larynx or esophagus.
TreatmentTreatment options for verrucous carcinoma focus on complete removal of the tumor and may include:
- Surgical excision with a margin of healthy tissue to ensure the entire tumor is removed. This is the most common treatment.
- Radiation therapy, although used less frequently due to the risk of the tumor transforming into a more aggressive squamous cell carcinoma.
- Topical chemotherapy or immunotherapy for lesions that are difficult to treat surgically, especially in the genital area.
- Laser surgery or cryotherapy for smaller lesions.