Vulvar Cancer: Overview
Vulvar Cancer: Overview
Last Modified: February 23, 2008

Who gets vulvar cancer?
Vulvar cancer most commonly occurs in postmenopausal women. The average age at diagnosis is 65, but studies have suggested that vulvar cancers may be becoming more common in women in their 50’s.

What are the risk factors for vulvar cancer?
In addition to older age, vulvar cancer has been associated with a history of:

infection with high-risk HPV types, (ie: HPV 16,18,33)
multiple sexual partners/ sexually transmitted diseases
cervical cancer
presence of chronic vaginal and vulvar irritation
What are the symptoms of vulvar cancer?
The classic symptom is vulvar itching (pruritus), reported in almost 90% of the women with vulvar cancer. There can also be associated pain, bleeding, vaginal discharge, and/or painful urination (dysuria).

Also, women often develop a visible vulvar mass: the squamous cell subtype can look like elevated white, pink or red bumps, while vulvar melanoma characteristically presents as a colored, ulcerated growth. There can be portions of the tumor that look sore and scaly, or cauliflower-like (similar to HPV-related warts).

Neha Vapiwala, MD and Eric T. Shinohara, MD, MSCI
Affiliation: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

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