Vulvar Cancer

Cancer of the vulva (also known as vulvar cancer) most often affects the inner edges of the labia majora or the labia minora. Cancer occurs on the clitoris or in the Bartholin glands less often.

Vulvar cancer is rare. It only accounts for about 4 percent of all female reproductive organ cancers. If it’s found in its early stages, vulvar cancer is highly curable. Fortunately, most cases are diagnosed in the earlier stages.

What is the cause of vulvar cancer?

The exact cause of vulval cancer is unclear, but your risk of developing the condition is increased by the following factors:

  • increasing age
  • vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) – where the cells in the vulva are abnormal and at risk of turning cancerous
  • persistent infection with certain versions of the human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • skin conditions affecting the vulva, such as lichen sclerosus

Symptoms of vulval cancer can include:

  • a persistent itch in the vulva
  • pain, soreness or tenderness in the vulva
  • raised and thickened patches of skin that can be red, white or dark
  • a lump or wart-like growth on the vulva
  • bleeding from the vulva or blood-stained vaginal discharge between periods
  • an open sore in the vulva
  • a burning pain when passing urine
  • a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour

See your doctor if you notice any changes in the usual appearance of your vulva. While it’s highly unlikely to be the result of cancer, these changes should be investigated.

How vulval cancer is treated?

The main treatment for vulval cancer is surgery to remove the cancerous tissue from the vulva and any lymph nodes containing cancerous cells.
Some people may also have radiotherapy (where radiation is used to destroy cancer cells) or chemotherapy (where medication is used to kill cancer cells), or both.

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about

DR Chitrathara K

HOD & Senior Consultant in Surgical & Gynaec Oncology. VPS Lakeshore Kochi
Specialized in gynecological, urological, and breast cancer surgeries.

  • Actively participated in the development of surgical oncology as a separate speciality in Kerala
  •  First lady Urologist of Kerala.
  • Started Kerala's first Gynaecological Cancer Surgery unit at Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram in 1993 & urological oncology in 2009.
  • Authored malayalam book “ Sthreekalile Arbudam-Ariyendathellam” published in 2014 by DC books
  • Editor of the following books - Ovarian Cancer (2008), Cervical cancer (2010) and Uterine Cancer (2015).

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