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Comprehensive Vulvar Cancer Care

The outer, visible part of the female genitalia is known as the vulva. It is possible for women to develop cancer on the vulva, which is called vulvar cancer.

What Are the Types of Vulvar Cancer?

Women can develop cancer on the outer part of their genitals, which is known as the vulva. There are five types of vulvar cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, melanoma, sarcoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Let’s take a brief look at each type:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinomas: These are the most common types of vulvar cancer.

  • Adenocarcinoma: These types of vulvar cancer start in gland cells, and account for about eight in every 10 vulvar cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

  • Melanoma: This type of skin cancer can be found in the vulva, though they are rare and only account for about 6 in 100 cases of vulvar cancer.

  • Sarcoma: These vulvar cancers start in the cells of bones, tissues and muscles. They are rare but can occur in females at any age.

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: This common type of skin cancer is detected on skin that’s been exposed to sun, so it rarely occurs on the vulva.

What Are the Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer?

Symptoms of vulvar cancer can include itching, changes in skin color around the area, wart-like bumps, thicker or scalier skin, pain during urination, or enlarged lymph glands in the groin. Burning, bleeding and discharge not related to a menstrual cycle can also be signs of vulvar cancer.

What Are the Most Common Vulvar Cancer Causes?

It’s difficult to simply list the most common vulvar cancer causes because the cause, or causes, of vulvar cancer are unclear. More research into this question is necessary. We can, however, list the most common risk factors for vulvar cancer; i.e. the conditions or factors associated with increasing risk for getting this disease.

  • Being infected by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is an STD (sexually transmitted disease). For most people, the human immune system can kill off the infection on its own. For a minority of people, however, the HPV virus persists and causes cell DNA mutations, which can, in some cases, lead to the development of a cancerous vulvar tumor.
  • Age. The average age of diagnosis of vulvar cancer is 65. The risk for vulvar cancer seems to increase with increased age.
  • A compromised (weakened) immune system. Treatment of some diseases/ conditions requires taking immunosuppressants, which weaken the immune system.
  • Smoking tobacco. A long history of smoking tobacco increases vulvar cancer risk.
  • Having a skin condition involving the vulva.
  • Having a history of pre-cancerous vulvar conditions.

How Is Vulvar Cancer Diagnosed?

A gynecologic oncologist is an expert in evaluating and treating vulvar cancer. He or she will typically conduct a biopsy to detect vulvar cancer. This can include removing a piece of tissue from the area, which can be done using a local anesthetic. If a larger area needs to be removed, the doctor may use a punch biopsy, which is relatively painless.

What Are Typical Vulvar Cancer Treatments?

To treat vulvar cancer, oncologists typically use surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or clinical trials; although uncommon, it is also possible that vulvar cancer treatment will require a combination of these approaches. Once you connect with a care team, they can advise you on the best recommendations for treatment.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best gynecologic cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.




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