Vulvar Cancer

Conditions A-Z - Vulvar Cancer

Illustration of the anatomy of the female pelvic area
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What is the vulva?

The vulva is the external portion of the female genital organs. It includes:

What is vulvar cancer?

Vulvar cancer is a malignancy that can occur on any part of the external organs, but most often affects the labia majora or labia minora. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,900 cases of cancer of the vulva will be diagnosed in the US in 2010. Cancer of the vulva is a rare disease, which accounts for 0.6 percent of all cancers in women, and may form slowly over many years. Nearly 90 percent of vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. Melanoma is the second most common type of vulvar cancer, usually found in the labia minora or clitoris. Other types of vulvar cancer include:

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.

Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop cancer, while others develop cancer and have no known risk factors.

But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.

What are risk factors for vulvar cancer?

The following have been suggested as risk factors for vulvar cancer:

What are the symptoms of vulvar cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of vulvar cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of vulvar cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for diagnosis.

How can vulvar cancer be prevented?

The cause of vulvar cancer is not known at this time, however, certain risk factors are suspected as contributors to the development of the disease. Suggestions for prevention include:

How is vulvar cancer diagnosed?

Vulvar cancer is diagnosed by biopsy, removing a section of tissue for examination in a laboratory by a pathologist.

Treatment for vulvar cancer

Specific treatment for vulvar cancer will be determined by your physician(s) based on:

Treatment for patients with cancer of the vulva may include:

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