Your diagnosis

Squamous papilloma of the esophagus

This article will help you read and understand your pathology report for squamous papilloma of the esophagus.

by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC, updated March 4, 2021

Quick facts:

  • Squamous papilloma is a non-cancerous growth that develops on the inside of the esophagus.
  • It is made up of specialized squamous cells that connect together to form long finger-like projections of tissue called papilla.
  • Causes of squamous papilloma in the esophagus include excessive alcohol consumption, acid reflux disease, trauma, and infection by human papillomavirus (HPV).

The esophagus

The esophagus is a long hollow tube that starts at the back of your throat and ends at the top of your stomach. Swallowed food travels down the esophagus into the stomach. The inner surface of the esophagus is lined by specialized squamous cells that form a barrier to protect the inside of the esophagus. This thin tissue barrier is called the epithelium.

normal esophagus histology

What is a squamous papilloma?

Squamous papilloma is a common type of non-cancerous growth. It starts from the epithelium lining the inside of the esophagus and is made up of squamous cells that connect together to form long finger-like projections of tissue. Pathologists call these finger-like projections papilla.

squamous papilloma esophagus

What causes a squamous papilloma?

  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Mechanical irritation of the esophagus by impacted food or medical devices (for example stents).
  • Reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
  • Infection of the squamous cells by human papillomavirus (HPV).

How do pathologists make this diagnosis?

The diagnosis is made after the growth is removed and sent to a pathologist for examination under a microscope. Sometimes only a small sample of the papilloma will be removed in a procedure called a biopsy. In these situations, your doctor may suggest a second procedure to remove the remainder of the growth.

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