If you’re a woman and you’ve noticed some abnormalities in your genital area, you may be concerned about the possibility of having vulvar cancer. The vulva consists of the outer portion of the female genitalia, including the vaginal opening, the labia majora (the outer lips), the labia minora (the inner lips), the clitoris and the Bartholin glands. Vulvar cancer can produce symptoms anywhere in this region.
Some common vulvar cancer signs to watch out for include:
- Persistent pain, tenderness, itching or burning in the vulvar area
- A patch of skin on the vulva exhibiting an unusual color or texture
- Wart-like bumps or growths on the vulva
- A mole on the vulva that changes in appearance
- An ulcer on the vulva that doesn’t resolve within a few weeks
- An enlarged lymph node or lump in the vulvar area or in the groin
- Pain during urination
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
It’s important to note that many of these symptoms can result from conditions other than vulvar cancer. After performing a physical examination and conducting any necessary diagnostic tests, a qualified physician can provide an accurate diagnosis.
Risk factors for vulvar cancer
Although the scientific community has not yet identified the exact cause of vulvar cancer, research suggests that the following risk factors can increase a woman’s chance of developing this disease:
- Certain precancerous conditions of the vulva or cervix, including vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN)
- Certain skin conditions affecting the vulva, including lichen sclerosus, lichen planus and Paget’s disease
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Advanced age
- A weakened immune system
- A history of smoking and/or excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
Vulvar cancer diagnostic and treatment services at Moffitt
If you’ve noticed any of the vulvar cancer signs listed above and you’re concerned that you might have this condition, you can turn to Moffitt Cancer Center’s gynecological clinic for a diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment. Call us at 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online to request an appointment.