Vulvar cancer is a rare but very malignant tumor. It is a disease of the female external genitalia, therefore, of the lips and the clitoris. The first symptoms that can be noticed are itchiness and small lumps or ulcers, visible at the time of performing the normal care of the body. As a general rule, this disease is diagnosed in older women and smokers. Advanced cases of vulvar cancer can be seen in women with lower social status.
There are two types of this cancer in medicine:
1. The less widespread, in women aged 50 years, are associated with HPV. It has the form of ulcers as well as changes in red, pink or white color.
2. Cancer in women over 70. It has the form of a painless lump and the basis of development is changes in the mucosa and the skin of the vulva.
Typically, actual tumor growth precedes changes in the epithelium, known in medicine as endothelial neoplasia. In women who are regularly examined by the doctor, these changes are almost immediately noticeable. Early medical intervention means there is no cancer cell growth. This type of cancer often develops multifocal. As the first symptoms are not severe, they are often neglected. In the later stage of the disease, bleeding, pain during urination or sitting.
What else do I need to know
This type of cancer is rare. According to the most recent data, in Poland, one in 100 thousand women suffers from vulvar cancer. It mainly affects women of old age and accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies, which mainly affect women. Interestingly, the highest incidence is observed in the so-called highly developed countries.
To diagnose the disease, the gynecologist smears the altered sites, which are then examined. However, it often happens that women report the problem too late. They go to the doctor when the changes are severe and the metastasis has already occurred.
This type of cancer is usually treated with drastic methods, such as removal of the lips with the tumor and much of the tissue. Therefore, many studies are done before this decision – such as ultrasound, blood tests or cervical cytology – to check for metastases. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also used, but this type of cancer is resistant to them. Treatment and recovery are usually more difficult due to the age of the patient and the presence of other diseases.
The prognosis is very good in the early detection of neoplastic alterations. One problem is the relapse tendency of the disease, which is why the woman should remain under permanent medical supervision after the operation. Metastases and small margins for surgery worsen the prognosis.