Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar Cancer Early Detection

Our mission is to empower women with the knowledge of vulvar cancer’s signs and symptoms, risk factors and provide recommendations. Learn, be well and share this knowledge with other women.

Did you know?

  • Vulvar cancer is related to skin cancers that can arise anywhere on the body’s largest organ — the skin. Basically, it’s skin cancer that manifests on some very precious skin.
  • Around 4,000 American women are diagnosed with vulvar cancers each year.
  • Generally found in older women, it can occur in twenty- and thirty-somethings.

Most vulvar cancers arise from the squamous epithelium, which is the outermost layer of skin. The remaining vulvar cancers arise from the melanocytes in skin. Those are the cells that carry pigment.

In the case of squamous cancers of the vulva, there is a weak association with human papilloma virus (HPV), but otherwise the cause is unknown. The cause of melanomas occurring on the vulva is not different than melanomas occurring anywhere else on the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer

Depending on which skin cell layer the cancer arises from, there will usually be some type of obvious growth on the vulva, either a mole-like black spot, as in any melanoma, or a growth without color, or an ulcerated area.

Symptoms may be confused with yeast infections because of the burning, itching, soreness, irritation, and increasing pain with intercourse. Antifungals may be mis-prescribed and found to be ineffective for this reason.

Risk Factors for Vulvar Cancer

  • Getting older — though it can occur at any age, the average age at diagnosis is 65.
  • Exposure to HPV, a sexually transmitted infection linked to an increased risk of several gynecologic cancers. For most young, sexually active women, the infection is asymptomatic and goes away on its own. For others, however, it can cause changes in the tissue that increase the risk of cancer later in life.
  • Smoking — cigarette smoking is linked to an increased risk of many cancers.

Recommendations for Vulvar Cancer

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, check with your OB/GYN or primary care physician. Vulvar cancer is usually visible to the naked eye and needs only a simple biopsy to confirm diagnosis.

It may be treated by excision or laser removal. It may recur, so regular follow up will be necessary. If it is a later stage cancer, more aggressive therapy may be required.

To lower your risk of vulvar cancer, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, seek out the help you will need to stop. Always wear protective clothing and sunscreen to safeguard all your skin, even parts where the sun doesn’t shine. Ask your doctor if you’re eligible for the HPV vaccine and, if so, get it. As for getting older, you go right ahead and enjoy the fruits of wisdom.

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