Vulvar cancer, different from vaginal cancer, affects the opening of the vagina, the labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips) and the clitoris. Most vulvar cancers begin in the squamous skin cells that line the labia majora and labia minora. About 8 out of every 100 vulvar cancer begin in the glandular cells found just inside the vagina.
Vulvar Cancer Risk Factors
The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 4,700 new cases of vulvar cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually. A woman has about a 1 in 406 chance of developing vulvar cancer during her lifetime.
Risk factors include:
- Being a woman over the age of 70
- Having HPV (human papilloma virus)
- Having HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Signs & Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer
See your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A red, white or pink bump or growth anywhere on the vulva
- Persistent itching or discomfort in the vulvar area
- Burning or painful sensation while urinating
- Abnormal bleeding (after intercourse, between periods or after menopause)
- Chronic, open ulcers or sores in the vulvar area
Vulvar Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment
Regular pelvic exams and pap tests are often the best ways to find vulvar cancer in its early stages. Many vulvar cancers begin as pre-cancers called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). Treatment for vulvar cancer will likely involve a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Vulvar Cancer Education, Screenings & Treatment at BayCare
BayCare is proud to offer a variety of cancer services throughout Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay. Call (855) 314-8346 for a physician referral or find a doctor near you.