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Vulvar Cancer

Summary

Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer. It forms in a woman's external genitals, called the vulva. The cancer usually grows slowly over several years. First, precancerous cells grow on vulvar skin. This is called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), or dysplasia. Not all VIN cases turn into cancer, but it is best to treat it early.

Often, vulvar cancer doesn't cause symptoms at first. However, see your doctor for testing if you notice

  • A lump in the vulva
  • Vulvar itching or tenderness
  • Bleeding that is not your period
  • Changes in the vulvar skin, such as color changes or growths that look like a wart or ulcer

You are at greater risk if you've had a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection or have a history of genital warts. Your health care provider diagnoses vulvar cancer with a physical exam and a biopsy. Treatment varies, depending on your overall health and how advanced the cancer is. It might include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biologic therapy. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Symptoms

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Cancer Society)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Living With

  • (American Cancer Society)

Related Issues

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society)

Specifics

  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)

Find an Expert

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • (Foundation for Women's Cancer)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Patient Handouts