Vulvar and vaginal cancers are very uncommon, representing less than 5 percent of all gynecologic cancers.
What is vulvar and vaginal cancer?
Vulvar cancers, affecting the skin around the vagina, are associated with the same virus involved with cervical cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaginal cancers usually start from other organs and spread to the vagina. Rarely are they originally from the vagina, but also come from exposure to HPV. Both cancers start as precancerous lesions that can be treated before they become cancerous. Types of gynecologic cancer include cervical, ovarian, uterine and vaginal and vulvar cancers. This page includes information about vaginal and vulvar cancers.
Who develops gynecologic cancer?
Risk factors for vaginal cancer include being older than 50, exposure to HPV, having vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) and having a mother who took diethylstilbestrol while pregnant in the 1950s. Risk factors for vulvar cancer include older age (average age at diagnosis is 65), being exposed to HPV, smoking and having a history of precancerous vulvar conditions or other vulvar skin conditions.
What are the symptoms of gynecologic cancer?
Symptoms of vaginal cancer may include:
a lump or mass
painful urination or pelvic pain
vaginal bleeding after intercourse or after menopause
watery vaginal discharge
Symptoms of vulvar cancer may include:
itching that doesn’t go away
pain and tenderness
skin changes, such as color changes or thickening, or a lump or wart-like bumps
How is gynecologic cancer diagnosed?
If you have vaginal or vulvar cancer symptoms or a pelvic exam reveals any lumps or changes, your physician may perform a colposcopy to examine abnormal cells or remove a sample of cells (called a biopsy) for further testing.
How is gynecologic cancer treated?
Treatment options will depend on the type of gynecologic cancer, its stage and your individual health and may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Valley offers comprehensive gynecologic cancer treatment through its gynecologic oncology program. For more information, call 201-634-5401. Valley is also proud to offer the latest treatment options, including minimally invasive surgery through its Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery.