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Vulvar Cancer Overview, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

The cancer which affects the female’s external genitals the vulva is called the vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva. This is the rare type of cancer.

This cancer starts first as the precancerous growth of cells on vulvar skin and develops slowly over the years.

These precancerous growths are called the vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), or dysplasia. These should be treated early before they get cancerous as some of them may turn cancerous.

Further a biopsy is done by the doctor to confirm the presence of the disease. In vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva patients a biopsy involves the collection of the small piece of skin on the vulva which may look abnormal and thus observe it under the microscope. Till date the only diagnostic method for vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva is biopsy.

Vulvar Cancer Causes

The main risk factors for developing the disease and which may form the cause of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva are the increasing age and the virus called human papillomavirus. The infection caused by this virus is a threat and high risk for developing this cancer.

According to the studies it is estimated that vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva mostly affects women of age between 65 to 75 years. However, some rare cases have been reported to cause in women 40 years or less.

Women with genital warts are at high risk of developing the vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva. These warts are detected to be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Vulvar Cancer Symptoms

Like most of the cancers the vulvar cancer doesn't show any early symptoms. The most common symptoms of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva are:

  • When passing urine pain or burning may occur
  • Vulvar pain
  • A noticeable mole on the vulva which changes shape or color.
  • Formation or ulcer like or sore on the vulva
  • Soreness, burning and itching, burning of the vulva
  • bleeding or a blood-stained vaginal discharge
  • A wart like, a lump or swelling on the vulva
  • The skin of vulva may be thickened, swollen and appear red

Vulvar Cancer Treatment

The vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva treatment varies from patient to patient. It depends on the overall health of the women and stage of the cancer. It might include laser therapy, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

The most common method of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva treatment is the surgery. This is either used alone or in combination with other vulvar treatment methods like the radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

In this method the tumor along with the diseased surrounding tissue is removed. There are various types of surgeries being performed in case of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva depending on the size and position of the tumor.

In some cases surgery may be very small without being complicated when the tumor is small and also it may be the only treatment method needed but at times if the tumor is large extensive surgery may be needed. Sometimes the clitoris also may be removed.

The other method of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva treatment is the radiotherapy which may be given either before the surgery to shrink the tumor or after the surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

The combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be used according to the requirement. In some cases of vulvar cancer or cancer of the vulva only chemotherapy may be given when the cancer spreads to the other parts from the vulva.

 

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