Causes and Risk Factors for Vulvar Cancer
Unfortunately, there are no known specific causes for this cancer, which makes prevention a little bit difficult. Some factors, however, have been shown to slightly increase the risk of a woman to vulvar cancer. Some of them include:
- Age– cancer of the vulva is rare and occurs mostly in women over the age of 60 years.
• Chronic Irritation or Inflammation – Certain chronic irritation of the vulva, such as lichen sclerosus can lead to the occurrence of the malignancy.
• Viral Infection – Infection with certain types of viruses, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), puts a woman at higher risk to have vulvar cancer.
Warning signs and Symptoms of Vulvar Cancer
The tumor develops from a group of cells of the vulva which grow abnormally. In healthy women, these cells disappear by themselves without turning into cancer. When the immune system is unable to fight the disease, these abnormal cells, however, continue to evolve to become malignant. These abnormalities are called pre-malignant or precancerous. Symptoms of vulvar cancer emerge when the diseased cells turn from precancerous to cancer.
Vulvar cancer symptoms can be challenging to recognize by the patient at the beginning. There are several diseases of the vulva which have similar characteristics. In general, common warning signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer include:
- burning sensation in thelabia
• painful intercourse
- Discoloration on thelabia
• appearance of small sore (ulcer) at the vulva.
• Discharge containing pus (occurring late).
• bleeding (mostly at late stage).
• Pain (during sexual intercourse or not).
Many women experience these symptoms, on occasion, and have no cancer. The disorders just disappear on their own without any medical treatment. But if these symptoms persist for a few weeks, it is wise for a woman to see a health professional who can perform or recommend gynecologist exams searching for cancerous or precancerous abnormalities.