The health care providers in this clinic are gynaecologists who specialize in gynaecological cancers and are associated with the B.C. Cancer Agency. They are also expert surgeons and also operate on women with benign vulvar disorders that need complex vulvar surgery. Patients with a confirmed cancer diagnosis will be referred directly to the BC Cancer Agency.
What is vulvar cancer?
The most common type of vulvar cancer is squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. These are cancers that arise from the skin cells. Other rare types of vulvar cancers include: Adenocarcinoma, Melanoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma or Sarcoma.
What causes vulvar cancer?
We do not know the exact cause of vulvar cancer. Most cancers develop in older women (>70 years of age). Some women have a pre-cancer lesion (VIN) that progresses to become cancer. VIN may be caused by an infection by the Human Papilloma Virus. In other women VIN may develop in women with a chronic skin condition such as Lichen Sclerosus. The skin condition may “turn off” a gene that suppresses cancer.
What are the symptoms?
Most often women will present with vulvar discomfort – burning, itch and pain. A woman may notice a change to her skin (color, thickness) or a bump. She may notice an area that is raw and sore and does not heal.
How is it diagnosed?
A doctor will examine the skin and, if necessary, perform a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure that is usually done in the office.
How is it treated?
For more information about the treatment of vulvar cancer in British Columbia click here. Many women with vulvar cancer will benefit from seeing other health care providers to address their overall health concerns related to their vulvar condition.