Vulvar cancer is a kind of cancer that appears on the external surface area of the female genitalia. The vulva refers to the area of skin that surrounds the urethra and vagina, including the clitoris and labia. Vulvar cancer generally appears as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching. Though it can occur at any age, vulvar cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older adults.
Vulvar cancer treatment generally encompasses surgery to eliminate the cancer and a small amount of nearby healthy tissue. Sometimes vulvar cancer surgery requires eradicating the entire vulva. The earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment.
Cause of Vulvar Cancer
There is no clear known cause of vulvar cancer so far. According to a report, the cancer starts when a cell emerges mutations in its DNA. The mutations permit the cell to evolve and divide rapidly. The cell and its progenies keep flourishing when other normal cells get dead. The accruing cells form a tumor that may be cancerous, conquering nearby tissue and extending to other parts of the body.
Types of Vulvar Cancer
The type of cell in which vulvar cancer begins helps your healthcare practitioner plan the most effective treatment. The most common types of vulvar cancer include:
Vulvar Squamous Cell Carcinoma - This cancer begins in the thin, flat cells that line the surface of the vulva. Most vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
Vulvar Melanoma - This cancer begins in the pigment-producing cells found in the skin of the vulva.
Increasing age: - The risk of vulvar cancer increases with age, though it can occur at any age. The average age at diagnosis is 65.
Being exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV): - HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that increases the risk of several cancers, including vulvar cancer and cervical cancer. Many young, sexually active people are exposed to HPV, but for most the infection goes away on its own. For some, the infection causes cell changes and increases the risk of cancer in the future.
Smoking: - Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of vulvar cancer.
Having a weakened immune system: - People who take medications to suppress the immune system, such as those who've undergone organ transplant, and those with conditions that weaken the immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have an increased risk of vulvar cancer.
Having a history of precancerous conditions of the vulva: - Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is a precancerous condition that increases the risk of vulvar cancer. Most cases of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia will never develop into cancer, but a small number do go on to become invasive vulvar cancer. For this reason, your doctor may recommend treatment to remove the area of abnormal cells and periodic follow-up checks.
Having a skin condition involving the vulva: - Lichen sclerosis, which causes the vulvar skin to become thin and itchy, increases the risk of vulvar cancer.
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