What is vulvar cancer?

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Dr. Lynn D. Kowalski, MD
Gynecologic Oncologist

Vulvar cancer is one of the least common gynecological cancers, says Lynn Kowalski, MD, gynecologic oncologist at MountainView Hospital. In this video, she says it's generally cause by the HPV virus, the same virus that causes cervical cancer.

Vulvar cancer is a rare form of gynecological cancer. It forms in the outer area of the female genitals called the vulva. Most vulvar cancers are a type skin cancer that takes a long time to develop. Occasionally this type of cancer can begin as a melanoma. Identifying vulvar cancer early increases a woman's chances of a cure. So, having gynecologic exams on a regular basis is important.

Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. It typically forms as a lump or sore on the vulva, often causing itching. Vulvar cancer is commonly diagnosed in older women. Signs of vulvar cancer may include:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Bleeding that isn't from menstruation
  • Color changes, thickening or other skin changes
  • Itching that doesn't go away
  • A lump, open sore or wart-like bumps

As with other cancers, treatment options will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, the woman's overall health, and what she prefers to do. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

Continue Learning about Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer develops when abnormal cells grow on the surface of a womans external genitalia.Developing slowly over years, cancer of the vulva affects the inner and outer vaginal lips called the labia minora and labia majora, the ...

opening to the vagina called the vestibule and the clitoris. See your doctor if you notice an itchy or painful lump or sore on your genitalia. Like other gynecologic cancers, the human papillomavirus (HPV) puts you at higher risk of developing this disease. You also have increased risk if youre over the age of 50, have been infected with HIV or have been diagnosed with cervical cancer. A pelvic exam can detect vulvar cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are commonly used to treat this cancer. Aggressive treatments may require removal of part or the entire vulva.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.