VULVAR CANCER

Expert vulvar cancer care focused on your needs.

Female doctor shows female patient vulva cancer information

What you need to know

Vulvar cancer is a rare disease in which cancer develops on the outside of female genitals. The cancer can develop over many years. It sometimes begins as a condition called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). 

Meet our providers

Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists. Learn more about our gynecological cancer care team.

Understand your diagnosis

Following a diagnosis of vulvar cancer, you may have more tests to help your doctor understand how far your cancer may have spread and your cancer stage.

Cancer staging involves identifying where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread and if it is affecting other parts of your body. Knowing the stage allows your doctor to develop your personalized treatment plan.

At this point, you've likely had a physical exam and reviewed your health history with your provider. You may have also had a biopsy to confirm your diagnosis.

Some tests your doctor may now recommend include:

  • Colposcopy, cystoscopy and proctoscopy: Using a special instrument, the doctor looks for abnormal areas in the vagina and cervix, the bladder and urethra and the anus and rectum. Tissue samples may be taken and checked under a microscope.
  • CT scan, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET) and X-rays: Imaging technology to look inside the body
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): X-rays of the kidneys, ureters and bladder can find out if the cancer has spread. A contrast dye is used to see if there are blockages. This procedure is also called intravenous urography.
  • Pelvic exam: An exam of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum to see if the cancer has spread. Your provider will look at the vagina and cervix for signs of disease and may do a Pap test of the cervix.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy: By looking at the first lymph node where cancer has likely spread, a pathologist can determine if other lymph nodes should be removed. The procedure can be done during the surgery to remove a tumor.  

Customized treatment plans

Because each person and every cancer is different, your doctor uses your tests and exams to come up with an individual treatment plan. How long this takes depends on how complex your case is and your treatment goals. During this time, you build a relationship with your cancer doctors. You become a team for your care.

Open, honest communication can only benefit your relationship with your doctors. These tips can also help you get the most from this partnership:

  • Prepare in advance: Write down your questions ahead of your visits. A few examples of smart questions:
    • Why are we doing these tests?
    • Why do you think this treatment is right?
    • What side effects might this treatment cause?
  • Find trustworthy resources: If you’re looking to learn more, rely on this website or sources your team recommends, so you can make decisions based on good information.
  • Take a partner: Bringing a friend or family member to appointments can make you feel more confident and help you remember important details.

Treatment options

There are several ways to treat vulvar cancer depending on the type and location of the tumor. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Women often receive a combination of treatments. Some patients may be candidates for targeted therapy.

Talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial (research study) may be right for you. Learn more about your treatment options.

More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Nurse navigators
Legacy Cancer Healing Center 
Support groups and classes
Cancer rehabilitation 
Survivorship services

Meet our providers

Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists. Learn more about our gynecological cancer care team.