Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar carcinoma is very rare and affects mostly women 60 years of age and older; however, its incidence in younger women is increasing due to the association with HPV.

Some symptoms of vulvar carcinoma can be:

  • A lump or growth in or on the vulvar area.
  • A patch of skin that is differently textured or coloured than the rest of the area.
  • Persistent itching, pain, soreness, or burning in the vulvar area.
  • Painful urination or sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding or discharge that is not menstrual blood.
  • An ulcer that persists for more than one month.
  • A change in the appearance of an existing mole (for vulvar melanoma specifically).
  • Wart-like growths, similar to genital warts.
  • Fluid leaking from the growth.
  • One or more swollen or hard lymph nodes in the

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer affecting the vulva, and precancerous lesions have the potential to be detected early. Other even more infrequent types are melanoma, verrucous carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and sarcoma.

Certain risk factors that predispose women to develop this type of cancer are:

  • A weak immune system.
  • Vulvar skin conditions, such as lichen sclerosis.
  • Precancerous conditions of the vulva, vagina, or cervix.
  • Cancer of the vagina or cervix.

Diagnostic techniques used to detect vulvar cancer include: regular Pap tests to check the cervix, vagina, and vulva; pelvic exams; and colposcopy (a procedure that involves the visualization of the external genitalia and cervix at high magnification).[2]