What is vulvar cancer, what are the symptoms and what treatments are there?

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VULVAR cancer, also known as vulval cancer, affects thousands of women in the UK every year.

Here’s everything you need to know about the killer condition – including how to spot the symptoms.

 Over a thousand British women are diagnosed with Vulval cancer every year

Getty – Contributor
Over a thousand British women are diagnosed with Vulval cancer every year

What is vulval cancer?

Vulval cancer is a rare strain of cancer which affects women’s external genitals, as its name implies.

According to the NHS, around 1,200 new cases are diagnosed every year in the UK.

The outlook for sufferers depends largely on their age and general health, with around six in 10 women surviving for at least five years after treatment.

However, the condition can return after successful treatment in as many as a third of cases.

It’s not yet known what causes vulval cancer, but it’s more prominent in older women, smokers, and people with persistent HPV infections.

As such, your chances of developing the condition can be reduced with the HPV jab – as well as by quitting smoking and practising safe sex.

Who is affected by vulvar cancer?

Vulval cancer typically affects women over the age of 65.

The condition is rare in women under the age of 50 who have not yet gone through the menopause.

But regardless of your age, you should speak to your GP if you think you have any symptoms.

 Symptoms of the condition include changes, pains and irritation in a woman's external genitals

Getty – Contributor
Symptoms of the condition include changes, pains and irritation in a woman’s external genitals

What are the symptoms of vulvar cancer?

Symptoms of vulvar cancer can include a pain, soreness or persistent itch in the vulva, the external part of the vagina including the labia, clitoris and glands.

The skin around the vagina can become thicker, raised or discoloured, and a wart-like growth can emerge on it.

Other obvious symptoms include bleeding from the vulva and blood-stained discharge, along with open sores in the vulva, changing moles and burning pain when urinating.

How do you treat vulvar cancer?

The main treatment for vulvar cancer is an op to remove the cancerous tissue.

Alternatively, some people may undergo radiotherapy, chemotherapy or both to kill off the cancer cells.

These options are more likely to be used if you aren’t well enough for surgery – of if the cancer has spread too far to be removed.

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