Solitary pulmonary papillomas in adults: a clinicopathologic and in situ hybridization study of 14 cases combined with 27 cases in the literature

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Nov;22(11):1328-42. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199811000-00003.


Solitary endobronchial papillomas in adults are rare neoplasms. Only sporadic cases have been documented. The histologic classification of these tumors remains problematic, and little is known about their clinical behavior. The clinical and pathologic features of 13 endobronchial papillomas and a single endobronchiolar papilloma were reviewed. In situ hybridization for human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6/11, 16/18, and 31/33/51 was performed on seven cases. Twenty-seven additional well-documented cases were identified in a literature review. Human papillomavirus studies were performed in four of the previously reported cases. The 41 neoplasms combined from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and literature review were divided into three groups according to their histologic features. Thirty-one of 41 (76%) patients were men. The ages of the patients ranged from 26 to 74 years (median, 57 years). Three morphologically distinct histologic types were recognized; 27 squamous cell papillomas, 7 glandular papillomas, and 7 mixed squamous and glandular papillomas. Squamous papillomas: 23 of 27 (85%) patients were men, and the median age was 54 years. Six of eleven (55%) of these patients smoked. Twenty-six lesions were exophytic and a single lesion had an inverted pattern. Seven of 24 (29%) lesions featured cytologic atypia and 5 of 24 (14%) had viral cytopathic effect. Five of seven (71%) cases examined for HPV DNA were positive. Three of 18 (17%) recurred. Glandular papillomas: Four of seven (57%) patients were women. The mean age was 67 years. One of five (20%) patients smoked. Five lesions were central, and two were peripheral. Four lesions had columnar epithelium, and three had ciliated epithelium. One of six (17%) lesions recurred. Mixed papillomas: five of seven (71%) patients were men. The median age was 64 years. Three of five (60%) patients smoked. Three of seven (43%) lesions featured cytologic atypia. Four of five lesions were examined for HPV DNA and all were negative. No lesions recurred. This study demonstrates that solitary endobronchial papillomas can be separated into three distinct morphologic categories. Squamous cell and mixed papillomas are predominantly lesions of male smokers in their 6th decade. Although cytologic atypia is observed in many cases, the rarity of these tumors and difficulty in separating papillomas from endobronchial papillary squamous carcinomas make generalizations regarding the risk of progression to carcinoma tenuous at best. Human papillomavirus appears to play a pathogenetic role in some squamous cell papillomas, but not in mixed papillomas, yet its presence in the squamous lesions does not correlate with recurrence or malignancy. The first report of an inverted squamous cell papilloma indicates clinical features similar to the more common exophytic squamous cell papillomas. Glandular papillomas, the rarest of all endobronchial papillomas, are found in an older age group than squamous and mixed papillomas, and most-patients are nonsmokers. Based on these findings, all endobronchial papillomas should be completely excised.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / classification
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / virology
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papilloma / classification
  • Papilloma / pathology*
  • Papilloma / virology
  • Papilloma, Inverted / pathology
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics


  • DNA, Viral