Vulvar cancer is one of the common cancers among women and it is a type of cancer that forms on the outer surface area of the female genitalia which is called the vulva. The vulva is the area of skin that surrounds the urethra and vagina, and it includes the clitoris and labia. It can be known as protection for these organs.
Vulvar cancer is mostly seen as a lump or sore on the vulva that usually causes itching. However this type of cancer can occur at any age, it is most often diagnosed in older adults.
Common symptoms of vulvar cancer
Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer are:
1. Itching that doesn't go away
2. Pain and tenderness
3. Bleeding that isn't from menstruation
4. Skin changes, such as color changes or thickening
5. A lump, wartlike bumps, or an open sore (ulcer)
Causes of vulvar cancer
Unfortunately, research showed that the causes of vulvar cancers are not clear. Generally, physicians have found that cancer starts when a cell develops changes which are called mutations in its DNA. The DNA contains the information that tells a cell how to function well. The mutations order the cell to grow and divide quickly. The cell and its offspring go on living when other normal cells would die. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may be cancerous, invading nearby tissue and spreading to other parts of the organs.
Various types of vulvar cancers
It's important to diagnose the type of cell in which vulvar cancer begins helps the physician to plan for the most powerful cure. The most usual types of vulvar cancer are:
1. Vulvar squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer begins in the thin, flat cells that cover the surface of the vulva. Most vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
2. Vulvar melanoma. This cancer starts in the pigment-producing cells placed in the skin of the vulva.
Risk factors of vulvar cancers
3. Human papillomavirus (HPV)
4. Immune system deficiency
5. Lichen sclerosis
6. Precancerous conditions and select other primary cancers
1. Delaying first sexual intercourse until the late teens or older ages
2. Avoiding sexual intercourse with different partners, avoid having multiple partners
3. Avoiding sexual intercourse with someone who has had multiple partners, the risk of getting STD infections may be very much
4. Practicing to have safe sex, like utilizing a condom. However, condoms cannot fully protect against HPV. Abstaining from sexual intercourse is the only full protection against HPV.
5. Having regular gynecologic examinations to find and treat precancerous conditions
6. Quitting tobacco use and smoking women
Ask your doctor about pelvic examinations:
Discuss with your physician how usual you have to undergo pelvic examinations. These examinations let your doctor visually examine your vulva and manually examine your internal reproductive organs to check for abnormalities. Tell to your physician about your risk factors for vulvar cancer and other pelvic cancers in order to determine the most appropriate screening exam schedule for you.
If vulvar cancer is diagnosed and treated early, the survival rate is about 90%. The key point for a cure is to discuss with your physician any warning signs early and to have a biopsy right away. Following cure, be sure to go to all follow-up appointments that your doctor suggests.
Most of these vulvar cancers grow over time, remaining on the surface for years. Although, some (for example, melanomas) grow faster than other types. Untreated, vulvar cancer may eventually invade the vagina, the urethra, or the anus and spread into lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen and into the bloodstream.
The Pap smear test does not screen for vaginal or vulvar cancers. Since there is not any basic and trusted way to check for any gynecologic cancers except cervical cancer, it is especially significant to identify warning signs and learn what you are able to do to reduce your risk.