Vulvar Cancer: Symptoms, Treatments, and Recommendations

gynecologist specialist

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Usually, people confuse the vagina with the vulva; thus, it is essential to clarify their difference. The vulva is the external part of the intimate area of ​​the woman. There are the labia minora and Majora, the glans of the clitoris, the urethra, and The entrance to the vagina. The vagina, for its part, is a space through which menstruation is released, the flow of the menstrual cycle, and a baby is born. 

Cancer is the overgrowth of cells in the body and can develop anywhere, such as the skin, blood, bones, and internal organs. Although cancer has many causes, some of them can be avoided through healthy habits such as a diet rich in foods containing antioxidants, proper hydration, frequent exercise, avoiding stress, the human papillomavirus vaccine, avoiding relationships, without protection, alcohol, tobacco, processed meats, and excess sun. 

Vulvar cancer is the overgrowth of cells in the vulva, which manifests itself in the dermis in the form of a lump or sores. According to CDC statistics, vulvar cancer accounts for about 6% to 7% of gynecologic cancers that have been diagnosed in the US. 

Associated factors 

  • Have a weak immune system. 
  • Having suffered from cervical cancer. 
  • Smoke.  
  • Having the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
  • Being a woman over 65 years of age.  
  • Being in postmenopause. 

Symptoms 

  • Thick appearance on the skin of the vulva 
  • Scales
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Change in color of the skin in the area
  • Constant itching
  • Bleeding not coming from the period

Diagnosis

Specialists must observe the vulva in detail through a colposcopy to identify foreign factors in the skin of the vulva. If abnormalities are identified, a biopsy of the affected tissue should be performed. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the gynecologist specialist should perform CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs to identify the status of vulvar cancer and the type of cancer. 

Stage I: when cancer has not spread to other places outside the vulva and when the tumor is small. 

Stage II: it is characterized by tumors that, due to their size, are close to the urethra, vagina, or anus.

Stage III: It has spread to the lymph nodes, which increases the risk of metastasis. 

Stage IV: characterized by having spread to places such as the urethra, bladder, anus, vagina, bones, and probably other areas in the body. 

Treatment 

Excision surgery: this can be done to a small or large extent, depending on the cancer status of the woman. You can remove the vulva, a piece of it, and the involved lymph nodes. 

Chemotherapy: these are drugs that can be injected into the veins or taken orally. Their function is to eliminate cancer cells from the body. 

X-ray: these are high-capacity rays that kill cancer cells. 

Tips to face the diagnosis in the best way 

  • Tell a friend or family member how you feel, mention that you don’t want to hear negative comments, and want to vent. 
  • Do yoga and meditation to release the stress and nervous energy that this produces. 
  • Do activities like cooking, exercising, dancing, watching movies, listening to music, painting, or getting together with your loved ones. 
  • Eat very well, include more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and water in your life, and eliminate sugars, saturated fats, and refined flours. 
  • Talk to women who went through what you are going through today, so they can advise you since they more than anyone will understand you better. 
  • Do not be afraid of sexual intercourse. Ask your specialist if you can do it. 

Prevention 

  • Protect yourself in your sexual relationships.
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners.
  • Eat well.
  • Get the Human Papillomavirus vaccine.
  • Go to the gynecologist regularly. 
  • Get frequent Pap tests or Pap tests.