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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis

Other Names for this Disease
  • Adult-onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (type)
  • AORRP (type)
  • JORRP (type)
  • Juvenile laryngeal papilloma
  • Juvenile-onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (type)
More Names
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Your Question

I have had recurrent respiratory papillomatosis for 14 years. My vocal cords have an HPV infection that grows papillomas. I tried interferon treatment and for nine months, nothing grew. When the treatment was stopped, the papillomas returned with a vengeance. I then underwent CO2 laser ablation with Cidofofir injections, which was done 30 times. I am losing my voice to scar tissue. Are there any new therapies that might halt these growths? 

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How might recurrent respiratory papillomatosis be treated?

There is no cure for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Surgery is the primary method for removing tumors from the larynx or airway. Because traditional surgery can result in problems due to scarring of the larynx tissue, many surgeons are now using laser surgery, which uses an intense laser light as the surgical tool. Carbon dioxide lasers—which pass electricity through a tube containing carbon dioxide and other gases to generate light—are currently the most popular type used for this purpose. In the past 10 years, surgeons have begun using a device called a microdebrider, which uses suction to hold the tumor while a small internal rotary blade removes the growth.[1]

Once the tumors have been removed, they have a tendency to return. It is common for affected individuals to require repeat surgery. In the most extreme cases where tumor growth is aggressive, a tracheostomy may be performed.[1]

Adjuvant therapies—therapies that are used in addition to surgery—have been used to treat more severe cases of RRP. Drug treatments may include antivirals such as interferon and cidofovir, which block the virus from making copies of itself, and indole-3-carbinol, a cancer-fighting compound found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. To date, the results of these and other adjuvant therapies have been mixed or not yet fully proven.[1]

Two articles from eMedicine Journal provides comprehensive information on treatment for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis at the following links. You may need to register to view these articles, but registration is free.
Last updated: 11/21/2011

How can I learn about treatment research involving recurrent respiratory papillomatosis?

Researchers are studying other possible therapies for RRP. In one clinical trial, researchers are investigating whether a common anti-inflammatory drug can inhibit an enzyme that promotes tumor growth in RRP, thus reducing the recurrence of tumors in people with RRP. Click here to read more about this study.[1]

Researchers are also investigating the effectiveness of a pulsed dye laser, a laser that delivers short intense pulses of light, to determine if it is more effective at preserving the surrounding tissue while removing tumors from vocal folds. On one clinical trial, researchers are studying whether a certain dietary supplement can work with the pulsed dye laser to decrease the rate of recurrence of tumors in children with RRP. Click here to read more about this study.[1]

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, 4 clinical trials are enrolling individuals with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. To find these trials, click here. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling 1-800-411-1222 to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.
Last updated: 11/21/2011