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What is Vulval Cancer & How is it Treated?

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 29 Jan 2016 | comments*Discuss
Vulval Cancer; Vulva; Labia; Clitoris;

Vulval cancer is not a very common form of the illness and usually affects those over 50 years, though it is increasingly becoming more frequent in the younger generations.

What Is The Vulva?

The vulva is the part of the female anatomy that consists of the sexual organs on the outside of the body. It is made up of the labia minora, the labia majora, the clitoris, the vaginal opening, the external urethra (the entrance to the tube to the bladder) and the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus).

Types Of Vulval Cancer

There are several types of vulval cancer that con develop and these include:

Squamous cell carcinoma - slow developing cancer stemming from the squamous cells.

Vulval melanoma - developing from the cells called the melanoma which give skin its colouring.

Adenocarcinoma - stemming from the cells that make up the lining of the glands.

Verrucous carcinoma - a slow growing tumour derived from squamous cells.

Sarcomas - develop from the deeper fat and muscle tissue and are the most rare.

Causes Of Vulval Cancer

For many diagnosed with vulval cancer the cause may never be fully understood or discovered but for others it may be possible to determine the origins of the condition or contributory factors.

It is thought that the Human Papilloma Virus HPV similar to that which causes genital warts plays a very strong role in the development of certain vulval cancers. It is passed on through sexual contact and can cause a pre-cancerous state.

Another possible cause is the condition known as vulval intraepithelial neoplasia which is linked to the HPV infection. This condition does not describe the cancer itself but is a pre-cancerous condition that can lead to vulval cancer if not treated.

Another possible condition is Paget's disease in which cancer elsewhere in the body can spread to the vulva.

Treatment For Vulval Cancer

The most common form of treatment for this form of cancer is to undergo some sort of surgery. During the surgery the affected tissue will be dissected along with a margin of healthy tissue in order to ensure any stray cells have been removed. This may warrant the reconstruction of certain parts of the female anatomy such as the urethra or perineum and it may require the specialism of another surgeon as well as a gynaecologist.

In some cases not all the affect tissue will be able to be removed due to the size or location of the cancer so it may be recommended that radiotherapy or chemotherapy is given first to try and shrink the size of the tumour allowing for it to be removed more effectively without too much disruption to other anatomical parts or tissues.

Surgical treatments are often used alongside radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.What ever treatment plan your specialist recommended always make sure you understand the treatment and what to expect during and after the treatment as the after effects of any of the treatments can cause a lot of pain, discomfort and psychological trauma.

Although vulval cancer is still quite rare, it is slowly increasing in younger women, possibly in response to heightened sexual activity and the spread of infections.Always use a condom and try and minimise the amount of sexual partners that are taken in order to protect your self from diseases and their long term consequences.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
crosschris - Your Question:
Hi for several years have been given dermovate cream for really bad irritation and itching of the vulval area but now seems to have spread and the whole area including my bowel area is so ithcy I wondered what I could use can you advise please I am quite desperate.

Our Response:
You should really visit you GP or well woman clinic to establish the cause of the itching.
FemaleHealthIssues - 1-Feb-16 @ 1:55 PM
Hi for several years have been given dermovate cream for really bad irritation and itching of the vulval area but now seems to have spread and the whole area including my bowel area is so ithcy i wondered what i could use can you advise please i am quite desperate.
crosschris - 29-Jan-16 @ 8:55 PM
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