What is Vulvar Cancer?
Vulvar cancer is a rare cancer that develops in the vulva. It is the area of the skin that surrounds and protects the female external (urethra, vagina) and internal (cervix and uterus) reproductive organs. Among vulvar cancer squamous cell carcinoma is most common.
What is Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
It is the cancer of the outer layer of the vulvar skin. The outer layer of the skin of the vulva is composed of flatfish scales like cells named squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common among vulvar cancers as 90% of the vulvar cancers are squamous cell cancers.
Disease Etiology (Cause)
There is no exact known cause; however, there are certain risk factors that can contribute to the development of the disease. These are;
- Older age: it is commonly developed in females who are older than 70 years.
- Smoking: Smoking increased the risk of vulvar squamous cell cancer among lung cancer.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): There is a high risk of developing vulvar squamous cell carcinoma in females who have previous history or current human papillomavirus infection.
- Lichen sclerosis
- Having a precancerous lesion named vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.
- Having a melanoma on other parts of the body or having melanoma history in close relatives may increase the chances of the development of vulvar squamous cell cancer.
- Sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes simplex virus 2 also a risk factor for its development.
- Usage of immunosuppressant drugs
- Human immune deficiency virus: Having an HIV infection is also a major contributing factor due to the depletion of immune cells.
Signs and Symptoms
The patient may suffer from the following signs and symptoms. These are;
- A lump or lesion at the affected site may or may not be ulcerated.
- Itching, burning sensation, and bleeding from the lump or lesion.
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during passing urine
- Warts like growth
- Thickened vulvar skin
Diagnosis can be made by using the following diagnostic tests and procedures.
- Pelvic and perennial examination to assess the size and nature of the tumour or lump.
- Cystoscopy: it is an endoscopy of the urinary bladder and urethra through which the doctor examines either the tumour has spread to the urinary bladder and urethra or not.
- Proctoscopy: it is an endoscopy of the rectum. The rectum is checked to determine whether the cancer is spreading to the rectal wall.
- CT-scan, MRI, PET scan USG and X-Ray to check the tumour size, extent, and distant metastasis (spread of the tumour to the other parts of the body).
- Tumour or skin biopsy.
Treatment depends upon the size, extent, and depth of the tumour. There are the following treatment options given below.
- Surgery: There are following subtypes of the surgery which can be chosen according to the current status of the patient and the tumour.
Wide local excision of the tumour and some of the surrounding tissues to stop the spread of tumour in cases of initial stages of the tumour when it is localized to its part of origin.
- Laser Surgery:
- Use of a lessor beam to remove or burn the cancer cells.
- Vulvectomy: surgical removal of the labial lips, vaginal opening, clitoris, and nearby lymph nodes in cases where the tumour is spread to the nearby cells and nearby lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the administration of cancer-killing drugs to kill the rapidly proliferating tissues and cells of the tumour.
- Radiotherapy; is the use of high doses of radiations to kill and shrink the tumour cells.
What Support can we Give for Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma is rare cancer, meaning it is not as well known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. So, we provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from rare cancer such as Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma, we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
You can help us with your donation:
Without a Ribbon is a charity that works hard to aid those who suffer from rare cancers. You can help our cause in a variety of ways: Donations — Without a Ribbon is grateful when we receive every donation. Giving to Without a Ribbon helps us to provide ongoing support, organise the annual gathering and subsidise the costs of our Warriors attending these conferences. Sponsorship — If you wish to sponsor our charity, please contact us using this form. Volunteering — We are always looking for volunteers to help with different aspects of running our charity. So, if you are looking for volunteer work, please feel free to contact us.