What is Vulvar Cancer?

Vulvar cancer is very rare and affects the tissues around a woman’s vagina  specifically the vagina’s inner and outer lips. While it may take years to develop, damaged tissue known as a precancerous lesion, is often present before becoming cancerous. Vulvar cancer is most often diagnosed in women between 50 to 80 years of age.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can help prevent cancer for the specific strains of HPV that lead to cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers.

What are Signs and Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer?

While symptoms may vary from person to person, it is important to know your body and share any changes or concerns with your doctor. Vulvar cancer symptoms include:

  • Bleeding or discharge not related to the normal menstrual period
  • Bumps that resemble genital warts
  • Color changes (darker or lighter) in the way the vulva looks
  • Itching that will not go away
  • Open sore that lasts for a month or more
  • Pain or burning
  • Burning, itching, or pain
  • Ulcer in the genital area
  • Vulva skin that feels rough to the touch

How is Vulvar Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

Gynecologic oncologists are physicians that specialize in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of gynecological cancers.

Most often, a biopsy is performed. This involves removing a small piece of tissue for examination by a pathologist in a lab.

The most common treatment plans involve one, some, or all of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy