Cancer » Vulvar Cancer
Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer that develops in females and is different from the vaginal cancer. Vulva is the part of the skin surrounding the clitoris, labia, vagina and urethra. Vulva is a part of female genitals and thus, only females are prone to the cancer. Vulva is an important external genital organ present in females.
Nature of vulvar cancer
Cancer of the vulvas is one of the uncommon cancers detected in women and accounts for just 4% of the overall cases of gynecological cancer cases worldwide. The cancer can be primary or secondary in nature. Primary cancer of the vulva develops in the vulva itself and may spread to other parts with increase in the intensity of the cancerous cells. The secondary cancer originates in an organ or area other than vulva and reaches vulva with the passage of time by the process of metastasis.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of the cancer in the vulva and comprises almost 90% of the overall cases related to cancer of the vulva. Basal cell carcinoma and melanoma are other rare types of this cancer comprising just 2-4% and 5% of the overall vulvar cancer cases respectively.
Cancer of the vulva develops mainly due to invasion of cancerous cells. The malignant cells attack the healthy tissues and cells present in the areas of and adjacent to the vulvas. These infected cells initially attack the squamous cells present on the epidermis of the vulva and penetrate deeper with an increase in the intensity of the disease. The malignant cells damage and kill healthy tissues and force the live and normal cells to behave abnormally. Inefficient functioning of tissues results into a shortage of resources for efficient cell growth. Also, it severely impacts the supply of blood and oxygen to various areas of the body and upsets the coordination between various organs.
Abnormality in the cells leads to their rapid division and growth and also prevents the normal old cells from dying in a natural manner. This leads to an enormous rise in the number of unnecessary cells. These excess cells form groups and accumulate in the infected area forming a lump. This lump is also known as tumor and can be benign, pre-cancerous or cancerous. Cancerous tumors are formed mainly by the malignant cells and have a high tendency to metastasize. They target healthy cells and tissues and replace them rapidly by the cancerous cells. They also travel to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes and the bloodstream and form separate tumors in the areas they infect. It is difficult to eliminate cancerous tumors as they redevelop quickly and can metastasize rapidly.
Pre-cancerous tumors are a sort of benign tumors which are not harmful to the body but are more vulnerable to be invaded by the cancerous cells. Benign tumors are least harmful to the body and do not carry the risk of regeneration. They are least interested in killing tissues and cells and replacing them by the infected ones. Also, they do not show any tendency to metastasize or spread and form separate tumors. Hence, they are easy to cure by surgery. Tumors must be detected in the early stages to cure them completely and with minimum side effects. The intensity of treatment increases with an increase in the intensity of the disease. Hence, proper detection and diagnosis of the tumor is necessary before opting for a kind of treatment as the damage may be irreversible.
Fight vulvar cancer
Vulvar cancer is curable if the tumors are diagnosed thoroughly and treated properly. A strong immune system is most important to fight the development of cancer cells in the vulvas. Weak immune system creates an atmosphere favorable for the cancerous cells to grow and roam freely without any considerable opposition from the body cells or antibodies. A strong immune helps the tissues and live cells to function more efficiently and enables proper cell growth. Balanced diet can be very advantageous to keep your immune system intact. Eat vegetables and salads regularly with frequent inclusion of fruits.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and other sexually transmitted diseases play a destructive role in assisting the cancerous cells to develop rapidly and regenerate with minimum opposition. Also, presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the body will put a person at a considerably higher risk of being infected by the cancer of the vulvas. Hence, safe sex and a healthy sexual life are very important to minimize the risk of being infected by the sexually transmitted diseases. Also, multiple sex partners will increase the risk of being infected by HPV and that must be avoided.
Excess consumption of alcohol and smoking are not the direct causes of the cancer but can make you more vulnerable to the disease. These habits cause a considerable damage to the body tissues and affect the behavior of cells and must be avoided.
Ultrasound, Pap test (also known as Pap smear or papanicolaou test), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and endoscopy are a few important tests to examine the body internally. It is necessary to keep the vaginal and surrounding areas clean. Frequent infections, bleeding and pains in the vulva should be consulted with a physician urgently. Also, detection of a lump or soreness in the vulva is an early indication of abnormal cell behavior. Tenderness or itching in the vulvar areas need urgent attention.
Computed tomography (CT) scan, X-rays and positron emission tomography (PET) test can help to detect the nature and intensity of the tumors for better diagnosis and treatment. Chances of occurrence of the disease increase with age. Pains during urination must be taken seriously and treated immediately.
Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer and the symptoms may be common to those shown in many other body disorders. Persons having family history of the disease are at a slightly higher risk. Radiation and chemical therapy along with surgery can be helpful to curb the infection effectively.