Cancer – Vulva

Cancer - Vulva
Cancer - Vulva

Overview Of Cancer – Vulva

Cancer – Vulva is synonymous with Vulvar Cancer. Vulvar cancer is cancer that starts in the vulva. Vulvar cancer most often affects the labia, the folds of skin outside the vagina. In some cases, vulvar cancer starts on the clitoris or in glands on the sides of the vaginal opening.

Commonly Associated With

Cancer – vulva; Cancer – perineum; Cancer – vulvar; Genital warts – vulvar cancer; HPV – vulvar cancer

Causes Of Cancer – Vulva

Most vulvar cancers begin in skin cells called squamous cells.

Other types of cancers found on the vulva are:

Vulvar cancer is rare. Risk factors include:

  • Human papillomavirus (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 cancer or vaginal cancer
  • Smoking
  • 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.

Other possible risk factors may include:

  • History of abnormal Pap smears
  • Having many sexual partners
  • Having first sexual intercourse at 16 or younger

Symptoms Of Cancer – Vulva

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 or discharge outside their periods.

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)

Other symptoms:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Unusual odor
  • Some women with vulvar cancer have no symptoms.

Exams & Tests

The following tests are used to diagnose vulvar cancer:

  • Biopsy
  • CT scan or MRI of the pelvis to look for cancer spread
  • Pelvic examination to look for any skin changes
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Colposcopy

Treatment Of Cancer – Vulva

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.

Radiation, with or without chemotherapy, may be used to treat:

  • Advanced tumors that cannot be treated with surgery
  • Vulvar cancer that comes back