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Condyloma acuminatum of the vulva

What is condyloma acuminatum?

Condyloma acuminatum is a common, non-cancerous growth on the vulva caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many different types of HPV and condyloma acuminatum is commonly caused by HPV types 6 or 11. Condyloma acuminatum is not associated with an increased risk for cancer. This condition is also known as a genital wart.

The vulva

The vulva is the external part of the female genital tract. It forms the opening of the vagina and includes the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris. The vulva is made of skin. The surface of the skin is called the epidermis and is mostly made up of squamous cells. The tissue beneath the epidermis is called the dermis, it contains blood vessels and connective tissue.

skin normal no adenexa

How do pathologists make this diagnosis?

This diagnosis is usually made after a small sample of tissue is removed in a procedure called a biopsy. The tumour can grow back after surgery and there can be more than one, so multiple surgical procedures may be required.

When examined under the microscope a condyloma acuminatum is made up of long finger-like projections of tissue called papilla. The layer of squamous cells on the surface of the tissue is typically thicker than normal. Pathologists describe this change as acanthosis or hyperplasia. Abnormal-looking squamous cells called koilocytes may also be seen. Pathologists use the term koilocytes to describe squamous cells that are larger than normal and have a clear space or ‘halo’ around the nucleus of the cell. Koilocytes are cells that have been infected with HPV.

by Emily Goebel, MD FRCPC (updated September 22, 2021)
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