What is vulvar cancer?
Cancer of the vulva can start in any part of the external female sex organs. It most commonly develops in the labia minora, the inner edges of the labia majora and the perineum. Less often, it may involve the clitoris or the Bartholin’s glands.
Vulvar cancer symptoms
There are often no obvious symptoms of vulvar cancer. However, you may have one or more of the following:
- a lump, sore, swelling or wart-like growth on the vulva
- itching, burning and soreness or pain in the vulva
- thickened, raised, red, white or dark brown skin patches
- a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour
- blood, pus or other discharge coming from a lesion or sore spot, which may have an offensive or unusual odour or colour (not related to your menstrual period).
Vulvar cancer statistics
- Each year, about 300 Australian women are diagnosed with cancer of the vulva.
- It most commonly affects post-menopausal women.
- The incidence is highest for women older than 80. However, vulvar cancer can sometimes occur in younger women.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of vulvar cancer, making up about 9 out of 10 cases. The other types of vulvar cancer are less common.
The aim of this information is to help you understand about vulva cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.