What is Vulvar Cancer?
Vulvar cancer forms in the tissues that make up the vulva — the outer part of the female genitals.
The vulva includes the:
- Opening of the vagina
- Inner and outer labia (vaginal lips)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection can increase the risk of developing vulvar cancer. Not everybody with HPV will develop vulvar cancer.
Early detection is important.
Pap smears may not detect HPV infection of the vulva, however, routine physical exams by a gynecologist can help detect any new, suspicious lesions.
Types of Vulvar Cancer
The following represent the most common types of vulvar cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma
- Cancer that occurs in the squamous cells that make up the vulva.
- This is the most common type of vulvar cancer.
Cancer that develops in the glands that exist near the vulva.
Who's at Risk of Vulvar Cancer?
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing vulvar cancer, including:
- Age over 50
- Being diagnosed with a previous gynecologic cancer
- First sexual intercourse at a young age
- History of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia
- Infection with or exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Infection with or exposure to HPV
- Skin conditions involving the vulva
» Learn more about gynecologic cancer prevention and screening.