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 4,850 cases of cancer of the vulva will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014. Cancer of the vulva is a rare disease, which accounts for only 0.6% of all cancers in women, and may form slowly over many years.
Vulvar Cancer Symptoms
The following are the most common symptoms of vulvar cancer. However, you may experience symptoms differently from other women.
Symptoms may include:
- Constant itching
- Changes in the color and the way the vulva looks
- Bleeding or discharge not related to menstruation
- Severe burning, itching, or pain
- Skin of the vulva looks white and feels rough
The symptoms of vulvar cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. As with any suspected medical condition, it is important that you consult your doctor for assessment and diagnosis.
Vulvar Cancer Types
Nearly 90% 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:
- Invasive Paget’s disease
- Verrucous carcinoma
- Basal cell carcinoma
Diagnosis of Vulvar Cancer
The diagnosis of vulvar cancer is confirmed only by a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.