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Vaginal and Vulva Cancer

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month 2022



What is the vagina and vulva?


The vagina is the tube that connect the vulva to the cervix.


The vulva is the external genitals, made up of the labia majora, labia minora, the clitoris and bartholin glands.


Vaginal and vulva cancer is rare.














Symptoms of Vaginal cancer


You may have:

  • A lump in the vagina

  • Skin changes in the vagina

  • Bleeding after sex

  • Post-menopausal bleeding

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Itchy vagina

  • Pain when urinating

  • Changes to your discharge

Symptoms of vulva cancer


You may experience:

  • Pain and soreness on the vulva

  • Itchy vulva

  • A lump or sore on the vulva

  • Bleeding from the vulva

  • Blood stained discharge

  • Pain when urinating

  • A mole on the vulva that has changed appearance

It is important to note that having these symptoms does not mean you have vaginal or vulva cancer as they are also symptoms of other conditions. It is best to get check out by a professional to rule out cancer and treat the cause of your symptoms.


What causes vaginal cancer and vulva cancer?


Vaginal cancer is often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus.


The cause of vulva cancer is unknown but the risk increases with age, having skin conditions affecting the vulva, smoking, having abnormal cells in the vulva and having several HPV infections.


Can I lower my risk?


You can lower your risk by attending your cervical screening tests to detect HPV, maintaining a healthy lifestyle of not smoking and eating well and practicing safe sex.


Diagnosing vaginal and vulva cancer


Vaginal cancer is diagnosed with a colposcopy. This is when a small tube with a light at the end is used to take a look at your vagina and surrounding reproductive organs, as well as to take a biopsy.


Vulva cancer is diagnosed by cutting a small biopsy sample from the vulva.

You may also have blood tests to look at your cell count and ultrasound and CT scans to look at the size of the cancer.


Treatment


If you have been told you have vaginal cancer or vulva cancer you will have treatment depending on the size and stage of it.


For vaginal cancer you may have surgery to remove affected sections of the vagina and sometimes the surrounding organs via a hysterectomy.


Surgery to remove vulva cancer involves removing the affected part of the vulva and surrounding tissue.


Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy


If you have cancer you will be put under the care of an Oncologist team. Chemotherapy uses medicine to destroy cancer cells and radiotherapy uses radiation to destroy the cells.


Visit Cancer Research UK for more information on Vaginal Cancer


Visit Cancer Research UK for more information on Vulva Cancer


How do I book a consultation?


You can book a consultation with Evi Bakali via her secretary or direct with Spire Healthcare.


Appointments are available via private medical insurance or paying for yourself. Click here for the most up to date self funding fees and for private medical insurance information.