Do I Have Vulva Cancer?
For many women, noticing a new bump or changes in the vulva can be cause for concern. It may even make them wonder: Do I have vulva cancer?
Before jumping to any conclusions, it is important to be aware of the different types of vulva cancers and possible symptoms.
What Is Vulva Cancer?
The vulva is the external portion of female genitalia and includes the opening of the vagina, the labia majora, the labia minora, and the clitoris.
Vulva cancer occurs when cells in the vulva become damaged and grow out of control.
Vulvar cancer most commonly affects the inner edges of the labia majora and labia minora, but can also present in the clitoris or Bartholin glands, which are fluid-secreting glands that are located inside the opening of the vagina.
What Is the Most Common Type of Vulva Cancer?
The most common type of vulva cancer begins in the squamous cells and, as such, is referred to as a squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma and adenocarcinomas are rarer and account for a significantly smaller portion of vulvar cancers.
Do I Have Vulva Cancer?
If you have noticed some new or concerning symptoms in your vulva area, you may be wondering: Do I have vulva cancer?
The only way to diagnose a vulva cancer is by vulva biopsy. This is best done by a Board-Certified Gynecologist who specializes in vulva disorders. A vulva cancer cannot be completely ruled out without a biopsy, and it is easily performed in the office.
Vulva cancer may cause symptoms, which include:
- A red, pink, or white bump or lump. Surface of the lesion may be wart-like, raw, rough, or thick
- Area of skin that looks different than other parts of the vulva
- Thickening of the skin of the vulva
- Pain or burning
- Bleeding or discharge
- An open sore that does not heal. Be especially cautious of a sore that persists for a month or longer.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should call your gynecologist to schedule a thorough in-person evaluation. Vulva cancer and pre-cancer are both often asymptomatic and thus an annual vulva exam is essential for any woman.
The vulva exam is a skin exam of the vulva and is needed whether or not a woman needs a pap smear and even if she has had a hysterectomy.
For additional information about vulva cancer, please call our office today to schedule a comprehensive consultation with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Melinda Hall.