Vulvar cancer is cancer that starts in the
Cancer – perineum
Most vulvar cancers begin in skin cells called squamous cells. Other vulvar cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma
Human papilloma virus(HPV, or genital warts) infection in women under age 50
- Chronic skin changes such as lichen sclerosis or squamous hyperplasia in women over age 50
- History of
cervical canceror vaginal cancer
Women with a condition called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) have a high risk of developing vulvar cancer that spreads. Most cases of VIN, though, never lead to cancer.
Women with this condition will often have itching around the vagina for years. They may have used different skin creams. They may also have bleeding.
Other skin changes that may occur around the vulva:
- Mole or freckle, which may be pink, red, white, or gray
- Skin thickening or lump
- Skin sore (ulcer)
Pain or burning with urination
- Pain with intercourse
- Unusual odor
Some women with vulvar cancer have no symptoms.
Exams and Tests
The following tests are used to diagnose vulvar cancer:
Biopsy CT scanor MRI of the pelvisto look for cancer spread
- Pelvic examination to look for any skin changes
Treatment involves surgery to remove the cancer cells. If the tumor is large (more than 2 cm) or has grown deeply into the skin, the lymph nodes in the groin area may also be removed.
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Most women with vulvar cancer who are diagnosed and treated at an early stage do well. But a woman’s outcome depends on:
- The size of the tumor
- The type of vulvar cancer
- Whether the cancer has spread
The cancer commonly comes back at or near the site of the original tumor.
Complications may include:
- Spread of the cancer to other areas of the body
- Side effects of radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy
When to Contact A Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks:
- Local irritation
- Skin color change
- Sore on the vulva
Practicing safer sex may decrease your risk of vulvar cancer. This includes using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Routine pelvic exams can help diagnose vulvar cancer at an earlier stage. Earlier diagnosis improves your chances that treatment will be successful.