The most common of all vulvar cancer symptoms is pruritus (itching). The lesion may present as a small single plaque, ulcer, or larger mass that has the appearance of warts. Most tumors are unilateral and involve the labia majora, but the labia minora, clitoris and peri-anal region can all be affected.

Squamous cell cancer may be preceded by vulvar dystrophies (dystrophy is a term denoting abnormal development, and can include degeneration), including lichen sclerosus or squamous cell hyperplasia (hyperplasia is the atypical proliferation of cells in a given organ). Frequent biopsies of the sites should be undertaken if local therapies have failed.

A non-healing ulcer should be investigated by your doctor immediately. Many patients feel embarrassed and uncomfortable, leading to unwarranted delays in diagnosis and treatment. Many small tumors can be cured by local excision, while more advanced cases will require a combination of surgery and chemotherapy potentiated radiation.

Early detection is among the single greatest weapons available to us in the fight against cancer. If you experience symptoms of vulvar cancer, you should consult your physician.

Learn about the risk factors