Vulvar inflammation and cancer

Apr 15, 2012 , Vladislava Králová

zanet-a-rakovina-vulvy.jpg - kopie
zanet-a-rakovina-vulvy.jpg - kopie
Vulvar inflammation and cancer are gynecological diseases affecting the female external genitals. Vulvar inflammation is characterized by itching, burning during urination and occurs primarily along with vaginal inflammation. Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer with similar initial symptoms as inflammation, but there are also ulcers, bleeding, and enlarged lymph nodes. Given the similarity of the primary symptoms of vulvar cancer with other diseases, symptoms should not be underestimated and you should see a doctor in time.

Vulvar inflammation and cancer

Vulvar inflammation and cancer are gynecological diseases, which are very unpleasant, annoying and in the case of cancer also life threatening. It is necessary to recognize vulvar inflammation and cancer in time to initiate an appropriate treatment. It is important to undergo regular gynecological examinations and in the case of any troubles in the genitals or doubts, consult a doctor.


Vulva, external genitals, or the womb is the term for the female external sex organs. These include the labia majora, labia minora and the vaginal vestibule, where is the clitoris, the urethral meatus and the entrance to the vagina. Vulva has a wide range of functions, like during urination, sexual intercourse, childbirth and menstruation. Vulvar inflammation, which mainly occurs along with vaginal inflammation, is a common reason for visiting a gynecologist. Vulvar cancer occurs rather rarely.

Vulvar inflammation

Vulvar inflammation or vulvitis is a disease that usually occurs simultaneously with vaginal inflammation. If it occurs isolated, it mostly affects children and elderly women, because their skin is less resistant. The risk factors for vulvar inflammation are diabetes, obesity and liver disease.

Causes of vulvar inflammation

The cause of vulvar inflammation is the damage of skin as a result of irritation by various substances. Among chemicals we include primarily cosmetics and soap. Especially in obese people, the vulvar skin is irritated by sweat. Urine irritates the skin, especially in the case of urinary incontinence (i.e., bladder weakness), and inflammation of the urinary tract. The vulva can be irritated also mechanically.

Symptoms and treatment of vulvar inflammation

The basic symptoms of vulvar inflammation are persistent itching of the external genitals, skin looks red, swollen and a feeling of heat and burning may be present. The treatment includes removing the source of irritation and consistent hygiene in the intimate area. Relief also bring cool compresses and ointments. If the vulvar inflammation occurs together with the vaginal inflammation, antifungal agents or corticosteroids are also used.

Vulvar cancer

Vulvar cancer is a relatively rare disease. It represents only 4% of all gynecological cancers. Vulvar cancer mainly affects women over 60. However, the incidence increases among younger women in relation to HPV infection. HPV or human papillomavirus is a virus commonly found in our population, which is sexually transmitted. Usually it presents no threat, the body deals with it easily. The problem is that there are a number of types of viruses, and some may initiate cancer, usually of the cervix. Vulvar cancer usually develops slowly and has a pre-cancerous stage, which is important to detect in time till it progresses into real cancer.

Symptoms of vulvar cancer

Symptoms of vulvar cancer are often itching, burning, pain, tenderness, swelling, skin lesions on the genitals and a smelly discharge. These initial symptoms are usually neglected mainly by elderly women and they do not visit a gynecologist, resulting in delayed diagnosis. In the later stages, bleeding occurs, enlarged inguinal lymph nodes may be palpable and painful ulcerating formations appear. All these late symptoms indicate a poor prognosis.

Diagnosis of vulvar cancer

Diagnosis of vulvar cancer is relatively easy, since it is an easily accessible place for examination. The gynecological examination is performed by eye and by an examination called vulvoscopy, which inspects in detail the suspected location of the vulva by a special microscope. The doctor also checks the vagina and cervix. Irreplaceable is the biopsy or sampling of suspicious tissue that is then examined microscopically in a laboratory. The type of the tumor is determined. Another important examination is an examination of the lymph nodes in the groin. Blood analysis is also performed, which can confirm the presence of cancer.

Treatment of vulvar cancer

The treatment of vulvar cancer is surgical and is often combined with radiotherapy. How radical the surgery will be, depends on the stage of the disease, type of the tumor, its location and size, age, and the overall condition of the patient. Most commonly a radical vulvectomy or removal of the vulva is performed. At the same time also inguinal lymph nodes are removed. If the tumor is not operable, radiotherapy or irradiation is performed. Aggressive chemotherapy or anticancer drugs are also used in special cases, or to enhance the effect of radiotherapy. After surgery, patients are checked every three months for three years.

Vulvar inflammation and cancer are very similar diseases

Finally, it must be emphasized that vulvar inflammation and cancer have similar symptoms, not only among themselves but also with other gynecological diseases. Therefore it is not possible to determine which disease is ongoing. Therefore, it is necessary to not underestimate the symptoms and rather visit your gynecologist. He will determine what kind of disease it is and will advise you with further treatment. It may be a slight inflammation, but unfortunately it does not always have to be the case.

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