Vulvar cancer is a type if gynecologic cancer that occurs on the vulva, the tissue that makes up the female external genitalia. Vulvar cancer is relatively rare and is one of the least commonly diagnosed female cancers.
The symptoms of vulvar cancer include persistent itching or pain in the vulvar region, bleeding in between periods or after menopause, and changes in the appearance of the skin including lumps or bumps.
To diagnose vulvar cancer, your doctor will first give you a thorough physical examination and discuss your medical history. Your doctor may also perform a colposcopy which is an imaging test using a microscope to magnify and outline the lesion. If cancer is suspected, the doctor will remove a small sample of the tissue for closer examination in a lab.
Vulvar cancer is treatable, and treatment options often include surgery to remove the affected tissue. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be used instead of or in addition to surgery to shrink the cancer, depending on the size and location.
Patients with vulvar cancer survive for many years post cancer treatment, especially if the cancer is caught early. Cancer caught in Stage I, for example, has a very high survival rate but may have a high risk of recurrence so careful follow up is important after your cancer is treated. Early diagnosis and treatment improve your outcome. If you think you are at risk for vulvar cancer, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your risk factors.