Vulvar Cancer

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What is Vulvar Cancer?

Vulvar cancer, or vulval cancer, is a quite rare type of cancer that affects the vulva, the external genital organs that protect a woman’s reproductive system. The vulva includes the labia majora, mons pubis, labia minora, clitoris, the vestibule of the vagina, the bulb of the vestibule, greater and lesser vestibular glands, and vaginal orifice.

Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer

Most of the time, a woman may not seek help at once due to embarrassment, but any symptoms should be reported to a specialist, as an early diagnosis will improve the treatment outcomes.
Most characteristic symptoms include:
Painful sexual intercourse
Bleeding
Pain and burning
Dark discoloration in cases of melanoma
Painful urination
Rawness and sensitivity
Wart-like growths
Thickened skin
Ulceration

Diagnosis

Gynaecological Evaluation: First, the gynaec oncologist will do a thorough examination of the genital area. The examination would include the vulva, perineal area, including the areas around the clitoris and urethra. Doctor might use a magnifying instrument called colposcope to observe the abnormal cells.
Biopsy: If there is ulceration, lump, or a mass that looks suspicious on gynaecological examination, a biopsy is required. Biopsy is performed under local anesthesia. The tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory, and a specialist doctor called a pathologist will examine the cells under a microscope. The pathologist will be able to confirm whether or not the cells are cancerous, and which type of vulvar cancer it is.
Blood test: This checks the number of cells in blood, and how well the kidneys and liver are working.
Chest x-ray: A painless scan that produces an image of the lungs.
Cystoscopy: The bladder is examined to determine whether the cancer has spread to that area.
Proctoscopy: The rectum is examined to check whether the cancer has spread to the rectal wall.
Imaging scans: These can help determine whether the cancer has spread, and if so, where to. An MRI or CT scan may be used. X-rays may be used to determine whether the cancer has reached the lungs.

Staging

There are different ways of staging cancer, which will be revealed from the biopsy test results.

Stage I

The cancer is limited to the vulva or perineum and is up to 2 centimeters in size.

Stage II

The same as stage 1, but the tumor is at least 2 centimeters in size.

Stage IIII

The cancer has reached nearby tissue, such as the anus or vagina, and it may have reached the lymph nodes.

Stage IV

The cancer has reached the lymph nodes on both sides of the groin, and it may have reached the bowel, the bladder

Treatment

The types of treatment normally used for vulvar cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biologic therapy.

Surgery:

If diagnosis of vulvar cancer occurs in the early stages, limited surgery is required. At the later stages, and if the cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the urethra, vagina or rectum, surgery will be more extensive. Types of surgery include:
Laser surgery
Excision
Skinning (partial) vulvectomy
Radical (complete) vulvectomy
Reconstructive surgery
Pelvic exenteration

Therapy:

Radiation therapy: It can shrink deep lesions or tumors before surgery, so they will be easier to remove. It can also treat lymph nodes. It can be used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Chemotherapy: Often used with radiotherapy as part of palliative care. It may be used on the skin, as a cream or lotion, but the method will depend on whether and how far the cancer has spread.
Biologic therapy: It is a kind of immunotherapy, which uses either synthetic or natural substances to help the body defend itself against cancer. It may be applied topically, as a cream, to treat vulvar cancer.

Dr. Monika Pansari

Gynaecologic Cancer Surgeon

Dr. Monika Pansari

Vulvar Cancer Surgeon in Bangalore
"Being diagnosed with Vulvar Cancer can be challenging. Lots of thoughts come to mind. Do Not Worry.
I , Your Sakhi - Your Friend, am available to guide you & support you in this fight against cancer and Together We Will Win"
I am on a mission to help Women Cancer Patients and thats why I founded Sakhi Oncology.
Do not hesitate to reach me or call me.

To know more, get in touch with a specialist immediately.

Why choose Sakhi Oncology?

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67, Uttarahalli Main Rd, Sunkalpalya, 
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560060

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No. 105, 5th Block, 17th C Main Road, KHB Colony , Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560095

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are several types of vulvar cancer.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: affects the flat, outer layers of skin. This is the most common type vulvar cancer. It takes several years for noticeable symptoms to develop.
  • Vulvar melanoma: mostly affects younger women. A melanoma presents as a dark patch of discoloration. There is a high risk of this type of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
  • Adenocarcinoma: originates in glandular tissue (the cells line the glands in the vulva).
  • Sarcoma: originates in the connective tissue. Most cancers of this type are malignant and rare.
  • Verrucous carcinoma: is a subtype of the squamous cell cancer, and it appears as a slowly growing wart.

Following factors can increase the risk of developing this disease:

  • Increasing age
  • Smoking
  • HPV infection
  • A personal or family history of melanoma in other parts of the body
  • Presence of sexually transmitted infections
  • Women with Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia
  • Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus
  • Weakened immune system

Other risk factors include having systemic lupus erythematosus, having psoriasis, or having radiotherapy for uterine cancer.

You can do the following to reduce the risk of developing vulvar cancer:

  • Practicing safe sex
  • Attending scheduled cervical smear tests
  • Having the HPV vaccination
  • Not smoking

Your recovery time after the operation will depend on your age, the type of surgery you had and your general health. If only a small amount of skin is removed, the wound will probably heal quickly. You will spend several days in hospital. If your lymph nodes are removed or the surgery is more extensive, recovery will take longer. You will spend about 8–10 days in hospital. It is advised not to put anything into the vagina after the surgery until your doctor says the area is healed (usually 6–8 weeks). This includes using tampons and having sexual intercourse.

Disclaimer Statement

This website is built with intention of providing basic details about the various diseases. The contents of the website is not meant to replace an in-person consultation. Please follow the advise of your doctor via in-person consultation. This website will not assume any legal responsibility for the patient’s medical condition.
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