Vulval cancer (also known as vulva cancer) is a cancer type that arises on the external female reproductive organs and occurs when abnormal cells in the tissues of the vulva grow in an uncontrolled way.
There are several types of vulval cancers with different risk factors, growth rates and treatment requirements. Unlike other gynaecological cancers, vulval cancer is not hereditary and known risk factors include precancerous conditions, pre-existing skin conditions and smoking.
Approximately 400 Australian women are diagnosed with vulval cancer each year and when diagnosed and treated quickly, the five-year survival rate is 74%.
Treatment options include surgical removal of the involved vulval skin which sometimes requires plastic surgery to cover the skin defects. It may spread to the lymph nodes in the groins, therefore surgical exploration is also needed. Although survival rates are high the side effects from treatment are significant – wound break down and lymphoedema.
Statistical Source – Cancer Australia, the lead cancer control agency to the Government of Australia.