What is Cancer of the Vulva?
Vulvar cancer is a rare disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the vulva.
Vulva refers to the external female genital organs, including the clitoris, vaginal lips and the opening to the vagina.
HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia , and older age can increase the risk of getting vulvar cancer. This uncommon cancer will affect more than 3,700 American women this year.
Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer
Vulvar cancer often does not cause early symptoms. Symptoms such as bleeding or itching can be from conditions other than vulvar cancer. Any unusual signs should be examined by your doctor.
Possible symptoms of cancer of the vulva can include:
- A lump or growth on the vulva.
- Changes in the vulvar skin, such as color changes or growths that look like a wart or ulcer.
- Itching in the vulvar area, that does not go away.
- Bleeding not related to menstruation (periods).
- Tenderness in the vulvar area.
Treatment Options for Vulvar Cancer
Surgery is usually the primary treatment for cancer of the vulva. Newer surgical techniques may remove the cancer with minimal effects on sexual function. Adjuvant therapy with chemotherapy or radiation may be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancerous cells.
Reconstructive surgery may improve a woman's quality of life. Our highly experienced surgeons can perform procedures to restore the anatomy and retain function. Plastic surgeons at Fox Chase can perform reconstruction of the vulva and vagina. Following radiation therapy or surgery, skin grafting is used in the vulva and groin. Vital organs can be reconstructed (bladder, vagina, pelvic floor) that had been surgically removed or damaged during radiation treatment. Bladder reconstruction can be performed by making a pouch to hold urine internally, which makes an external bag unnecessary.
Call a Nurse Navigator
Your Nurse Navigator will be there to assist you at every step along the way, from the first call through follow-up visits.
Patients who come to the Center for vulvar cancer treatment are offered individualized, compassionate care with a focus on wellness, stress reduction and quality of life and access to our full scope of research opportunities, with a personal guide to help the patient navgate the details.
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