Vulvar cancer constitutes 5% of all gynecologic malignancies. Each year, approximately 3,600 are diagnosed with this cancer in the United States. The rate of vulvar cancer in the elderly population has remained stable for the last few decades, while the rate of vulvar cancer has increased in younger women.
The rate of pre-cancerous lesions of the vulva (known as vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia or VIN) has dramatically increased over the past decade. This is most likely due to increases in the rate of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection among women, particularly younger women. Women that smoke also have an increased risk of VIN as well as recurrence of the cancer after treatment.
Most vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, with melanoma being the second most common. Other cell types include adenocarcinoma, Paget’s Disease and basal cell carcinoma.