The vulva is comprised of the external female genital organs, including the vaginal lips, clitoris and the skin surrounding the vagina. Vulvar cancer occurs when malignant cells form in any of these organs.
Vulvar cancer can develop over a period of years, as cells undergo abnormal changes before becoming malignant. This phase is called vulvar intraepithelial neplasia (VIN) or dysplasia. Risk may include carrying the human papillomavirus, (HPV) and advanced age.
There are not usually noticeable symptoms of vulvar cancer. However, some women do experience symptoms. These may include:
If vulvar cancer is caught in its early stages, it is very treatable and outcomes can be excellent. If there is a concern, or a biopsy comes back with possible signs of cancer, you will be referred to a gynecological oncologist.
When evaluated for vulvar cancer, your doctor will take a complete medical and family history as well as perform a pelvic exam to examine the organs of the female reproductive tract for any changes in size or shape. The following tests may be ordered by your doctor to fully evaluate you for vaginal cancer:
If cancer is found in the biopsy, then your doctor will create an individualized treatment plan for you
Treatment for vulvar cancer may include:
Last Updated: 7/15/2013