This article will help you read and understand your pathology report for squamous papilloma of the oral cavity.
by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FCPCP (updated June 1, 2021)
The oral cavity is the beginning of the aerodigestive tract. It is used for both breathing and taking in food. The oral cavity is a complex area of the body that is made up of many parts.
All of the parts of the oral cavity are lined by specialized squamous cells that create a barrier called the epithelium. The tissue below the epithelium is called the stroma. The epithelium is separated from the stroma by a thin strip of tissue called the basement membrane. Pathologists use the word mucosa to describe all of the tissue above the stroma.
Squamous papilloma is a common type of non-cancerous growth. It starts from the epithelium lining the inside of the mouth 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 and the pattern of growth papillary. Most start on the tongue, inner cheek (buccal mucosa), or roof of the mouth (hard or soft palate) although they can start anywhere in the mouth.
Most squamous papillomas in the mouth are caused by infection of the squamous cells by human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many types of human papillomavirus and the types that cause squamous papilloma are called low risk because they are not associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.
Some squamous papillomas are probably caused by trauma such as accidental biting of the tongue, cheeks, or lips. Poorly fitting dentures or other oral devices can also cause this type of growth.
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.