VAGINAL AND VULVAR CANCERS

Vaginal and vulvar cancers are very uncommon. The vulva and vagina are the external female genital organs, whereas a muscular and elastic tube tract connects the cervix and vulva. Malignancies of these organs usually develop from the surface lining and are squamous cell cancers. Both vulvar and vaginal squamous cell malignancies are often caused by lesions known as vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) or vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN).

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of vulva cancer are the following:

  • Itching or irritation
  • A lump or ulceration on the vulva
  • Bleeding or discharge

On the other hand, vaginal cancers are usually asymptomatic and are discovered via regular gynecologic screenings or may lead to an abnormal Pap screening. Bleeding or abnormal discharge may also occur in vaginal cancer.

DIAGNOSIS

To diagnose vaginal and vulvar cancers, women must have their health care physician examine and biopsy any suspicious lesion, particularly if it is associated with itching, discomfort, or bleeding. A biopsy is required to distinguish vulvar malignancies from other benign vulvar lesions, which may similarly cause itching and a lump.

Furthermore, vaginal colposcopy, a magnified assessment of the vagina following the administration of weak acetic acid (or table vinegar), is also used to show lesions diagnostic of VAIN or vaginal cancer, which may be biopsied.

TREATMENT

Treatment for vaginal and vulvar cancers include:

  • Surgery. Surgery is nearly usually used to treat vulvar malignancy. However, it is seldom used in vaginal cancer.
  • Chemotherapy. For treating vaginal and vulvar cancers, chemotherapy may be used with radiation.
  • Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy). Brachytherapy delivers precise dosages of radiation to the malignant spot. Interstitial implantation, a treatment that employs tiny needles to radioactive implant sources directly into the tumor, is often used by radiation oncologists to treat vaginal cancer.

External Radiation Therapy. One objective of vulvar cancer treatment is to preserve as much of the patient’s tissue as feasible. For instance, instead of removing the clitoris, the gynecologic oncologist may send the individual to a radiation oncologist for preoperative therapy. External beam radiation is often utilized to treat vaginal and vulvar cancers.

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