Cancer of the vulva, or external female genitalia, includes the clitoris, vaginal lips (labia) and the opening to the vagina. According to data collected by the National Cancer Institute, the estimated number of new cases of vulvar cancer in 2014 will be 4,850, with 1,030 of those diagnoses resulting in death. Vulvar cancer is less common than many of the gynecologic cancers and typically occurs in older women over the age of 65.
The most common types of vulvar cancer include:
At Roswell Park, we treat all gynecologic cancers with the same level of consideration, whether they are common and highly treatable or extremely rare and aggressive. Vulvar cancer often presents with seemingly benign symptoms in the early stages, so it may be mistaken for other conditions until it has become highly invasive. Thus, being familiar with the early signs of disease as well as the risk factors associated with vulvar cancer allow us to be vigilant in its early detection.
The symptoms of vulvar cancer may be mistaken for other less serious conditions so it’s important to be evaluated by your physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below for an extended period:
In cases of vulvar melanoma, the signs of disease are like those of most other melanomas and may include a darkly pigmented growth or a change in a mole that has been present for years. Refer to the ABCD rule for identifying skin cancer to determine whether a mole is normal or malignant: