Vulvar Cancer: Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the vulva, the external part of the female genitalia. It is a relatively rare type of cancer, accounting for less than 5% of all gynecological cancers. However, it can be a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. In this blog, we will discuss the causes, signs and symptoms, treatment, and its prevention.
Causes of Vulvar Cancer
The exact cause is unknown. However, certain factors may increase a woman’s risk of developing this condition. These include:
- Age: It is more common in women over the age of 50.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection: HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can increase the risk.
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco increases the risk of vulvar cancer.
- Chronic vulvar irritation or infection: Long-term irritation or infection of the vulva can increase the risk of developing cancer.
- History of precancerous vulvar conditions: Women who have had vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) or lichen sclerosis are at an increased risk of developing cancer in their vulva.
Signs and Symptoms for cancer in Vulva
The signs and symptoms can vary depending on the stage of cancer. Some of the common symptoms include:
- A lump or mass in the vulva
- Persistent itching in the vulva
- Pain or tenderness in the vulva
- Bleeding or discharge not related to menstruation
- Changes in the color or thickness of the skin of the vulva
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult an Ovarian Cancer Specialist.
Treatment for Vulvar Cancer
The treatment for depends on the stage and extent of the cancer. The following are some of the common treatments are:
- Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for vulvar cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tissue while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in advanced stages of vulvar cancer.
There is no sure way to prevent it. However, the following measures may help reduce the risk of developing this condition:
- Practice safe sex: Using condoms during sexual intercourse may reduce the risk of HPV infection, which is a risk factor for cancer in the vulva.
- Quit smoking: Quitting smoking reduces the risk.
- Maintain good hygiene: Keeping the vulva clean and dry can help reduce the risk of chronic irritation or infection.
- Get vaccinated: The HPV vaccine can protect against certain strains of HPV that increase the risk.
In conclusion, vulvar cancer is a rare but serious type of cancer that can occur in women. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of it and seek medical attention promptly if any symptoms are present. While the exact cause of vulvar cancer is unknown, certain factors may increase a woman’s risk of developing this condition.