What Is Vulvar Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer. It’s likely that you or someone you know may have had basal or squamous skin cancer on the face, hands, arms, or legs. That’s understandable because that skin is exposed to the sun. 

But skin cancer can appear on your body in places you don’t expect. That includes vulvar skin cancer. Our board-certified dermatologists at Seacoast Dermatology are experts at detecting and treating all kinds of skin cancers, including vulvar skin cancer. 

Where is vulvar skin cancer? 

The vulva is the outer section of a woman’s genitals. It includes the skin around the urethra, where you void, and the vagina. The labia majora and minora are parts of your vulva; they’re the respective thick and thin folds of skin that protect this area of your body. 

You may not notice any symptoms in an early stage of the cancer. As it progresses, you may have any of a variety of symptoms, including:

Just as you can get different types of skin cancer on other parts of your body, you can also have various types of it on the vulva. Vulvar cancer can be basal cell, squamous cell, melanoma, a rare sarcoma that involves the bone, or a cancer on the glands near the opening of the vagina. 

The good news is that vulvar skin cancer is very, very rare. When caught early before it’s spread to other areas from the vulva, it has a high survival rate. 

What causes vulvar skin cancer? 

Doctors aren’t sure why this type of cancer forms, but there are risk factors for it. The majority of vulvar cancer cases occur in women over 70 years old. 

If you’ve had melanoma or a family history of it, you’re more at risk. Having human papillomavirus (HPV) or HIV increases the risk, as does having vaginal or cervical cancer. Smoking is another risk factor.  

Treatments for vulvar skin cancer

The treatment for vulvar skin cancer depends on the type of skin cancer and the stage of the disease. 

If it’s basal or squamous cell and hasn’t spread, we may free or scrape it off. If it’s melanoma or another type, appears as a tumor, or has spread, we may elect one of the following, and/or send you to an oncologist for radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. 

Ultrasound surgery 

Ultrasound waves can break up a vulvar tumor, then we remove the particles via suction. There is little damage to surrounding tissue. 

Laser surgery 

The laser’s very intense light makes a bloodness cut in the vulvar tissue to take out a vulvar tumor. The laser can also remove any affected lymph nodes


If the skin cancer hasn’t spread to other areas, we may remove the cancer and surrounding tissue. If it has spread, we may refer you to a surgical oncologist for additional treatment.

Contact us today for outstanding and compassionate care for skin cancer and all of your dermatology needs. Our offices are located in Portsmouth, Dover, and Exeter, New Hampshire.

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