At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is Verrucous Carcinoma?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

Verrucous carcinoma, a form of squamous cell carcinoma, is a type of cancer that most often affects the mouth. Most prevalent among those who use tobacco products such as snuff, although it can be caused by other factors as well, verrucous carcinoma is sometimes found in the genital area, the esophagus, or the skin. This type of cancer is normally isolated and does not spread to other areas of the body, making surgical removal of the cancerous tissue the most commonly used treatment method. Any questions or concerns about verrucous carcinoma or individualized treatment methods should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Although verrucous carcinoma lesions can be found in many areas of the body, they are most frequently found in the mouth among those who use snuff. For this reason, it is commonly referred to as the snuff dipper's cancer. A surgical biopsy is often required in order to accurately distinguish verrucous carcinoma from other forms of cancer.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

The exact cause of this cancer is not completely understood, although several theories exist. The chemicals found in most tobacco products are thought to be contributing factors in most cases. A sexually transmitted infection known as HPV may lead to some cases of verrucous carcinoma. Alcohol consumption and various inflammatory diseases may increase the risks of developing this form of cancer as well.

Lesions associated with verrucous carcinoma tend to grow very slowly and rarely spread into other areas of the body. Although all forms of cancer can be potentially fatal, the prognosis for this localized carcinoma is usually quite favorable, especially if it is diagnosed in the earliest stages. Caucasian men more than the age of 50 seem to have the greatest risk of developing this cancer, although it can appear in anyone and at any age.

Symptoms often begin as an area of irritation or inflammation that slowly grows into a localized mass. While the lesion primarily affects the skin, it may grow deeper, moving into the surrounding fascia, muscle, or bone. Initial treatment normally involves a procedure known as a biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue from the lesion is removed and sent to a laboratory for further testing. Surgical removal of the mass often rids the body of all of the cancerous cells associated with verrucous carcinoma. In some cases, additional treatment options such as radiation or chemotherapy may need to be used, especially if the mass has moved deeply into surrounding tissue.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Doctor taking notes
      Doctor taking notes