Vulvar Skin Cancer: Here's What You Don't Know

Vulvar Skin Cancer: Here's What You Don't Know

You’re familiar with risks for skin cancer and take steps to protect yourself with sunscreen, limited exposure during the heat of the day, a hat, and sunglasses. But what do you do about vulvar skin cancer?

You may not be aware that women can get skin cancer in the vulva, the skin around your vagina and urethra. 

At Seacoast Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologists are skin care specialists who do total body checks for skin cancer, including vulvar skin cancer.  

Thankfully, vulvar skin cancer is rare. Only about 5,500 women are diagnosed with this cancer every year. If you do have it, early treatment provides the best outcomes, just as with other cancer diagnoses. 

Scheduling and keeping your annual skin checkup with one of our expert dermatologists reduces your risk of serious skin cancer. We can identify problems early and provide treatment that eliminates the cancer. 

Don’t wait for an annual checkup if you spot a difference in your skin and have any of the symptoms listed below.  The five-year survival rate for localized vulvar cancer that hasn’t spread is 86%

Who is at risk for vulvar skin cancer?

There are several risk factors for vulvar skin cancer. You can’t do anything about some of them, like aging. But when you’re aware of the other risk factors tied to lifestyle choices, you can take steps to protect yourself.  

Age 

Many women who are diagnosed with vulvar skin cancer are past menopause. The average age for invasive vulvar cancer is 70; for noninvasive vulvar cancer, it’s 50. 

HPV 

Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) increase your risk of vulvar and cervical cancer. If you haven’t already, ask your gynecologist about the HPV vaccine to help prevent an HPV infection that could lead to cancer. 

Smoking 

Smoking is known to be a contributing factor to many types of cancer, including vulvar cancer. The chemicals in cigarettes travel to all parts of your body. You’re at high risk if you’ve had HPV infections and smoke. 

A weak immune system 

A weakened immune system places you more at risk for disease. Make healthy lifestyle choices to lower your risk. 

Atypical moles or a melanoma

If you’ve had treatment for atypical moles or melanoma, you’re at higher risk of vulvar skin cancer. Be sure to include all previous skin issues on your medical history form. 

Symptoms of vulvar cancer

If you have any of these symptoms, call us at Seacoast Dermatology for an appointment right away. 

Treatment for vulvar cancer

If you have pre-cancer on the surface of your skin, we may recommend a topical ointment. It could be a chemotherapy drug or a drug to boost your immune system. 

Laser therapy may also be an option. We discuss your treatment with you. If you have cancer, we may use a combination of targeted radiation and chemotherapy

Call us today to schedule a GYN skin check with one of our female providers. We have locations in Portsmouth, Exeter, and Dover, New Hampshire. We’re your partners in your skin health.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Getting Your Skin Ready for Another Summer

Summer is just around the corner. The days are getting longer and warmer. It’s time to shed that dry, dull, winter skin and restore its radiant beauty. Here are some helpful tips.

Best Foods for Acne

If you or your loved one has painful acne, you may wonder if the foods you’re eating make it worse. Learn what the research says about the best foods to eat if you have acne.

Recovering from Mohs Surgery

You’ve learned you have skin cancer, and now you’re scheduled for Mohs surgery. You may be wondering what the recovery period is like. Learn more about it here.

Why Do Adults Still Get Acne?

You thought you were done with acne when you left your teenage years behind. Acne can and does occur in adults over age 25. Learn the facts and measures you can take to minimize breakouts.