Vulvar Cancer & Vaginal Cancer

David Martin, MD -  - Board Certified Obstetrics & Gynecology

Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists

David Martin, MD

Board Certified Obstetrics & Gynecology & Gynecologic Oncologist located in Knoxville, TN

Vulvar cancer is a relatively uncommon reproductive cancer, with only a little more than 6,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Thankfully, it’s also a highly treatable cancer with the right team, such as the one at Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists. Under the guidance of David Martin, MD, the practice offers women in Knoxville, Tennessee, expert diagnosis and treatment of vulvar cancer. To learn more, call the office or fill out the online form to request an appointment.

Vulvar Cancer & Vaginal Cancer Q & A

What is vulvar cancer?

Vulvar cancer affects your external genitalia, which includes your:

  • Vaginal opening
  • Labia majora
  • Labia minora
  • Clitoris

There are several types of vulvar cancer, namely:

Squamous cell carcinomas

This is the most common form of vulvar cancer, and it affects your squamous cells, which are your primary skin cells.

Adenocarcinomas

This type of vulvar cancer only accounts for 8% of the total diagnoses and starts in your Bartholin glands, which are found just inside your vagina.

Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that attacks the pigment-producing cells in your skin.

There are other, rarer, forms of cancer that can affect your external genitalia, but these represent the most common.

Most vulvar cancers are diagnosed in older women — the average age of diagnosis is 65. While there’s no single cause of vulvar cancer, exposure to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, heightens your risk of developing the disease.

What are the symptoms of vulvar cancer?

Since this form of cancer affects your external genitalia, the symptoms can be more obvious. They include:

  • Bleeding outside of your period
  • An itchy area on your vulva
  • A bump or open sore on your genitalia
  • Pain or tenderness

If you develop any irregularities in your genitalia, it’s important that you seek the medical advice of Dr. Martin as soon as possible.

How is vulvar cancer treated?

When you first come in, Dr. Martin performs a visual exam of your genitalia to check for any irregularities that may point toward cancer. If he finds something, the doctor takes a biopsy for further study under a microscope to check for cancerous cells.

Should Dr. Martin diagnose vulvar cancer, the first step is to surgically remove the cancer. He takes care to remove only what’s necessary, with enough of a margin to ensure that all of the diseased tissue is excised. Dr. Martin may also remove nearby lymph nodes, using the latest laparoscopic techniques, to determine whether the cancer has spread. Should this be the case, you may need to undergo more systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

If you have something suspicious on your genitalia, don’t wait to call Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists. Or you can request an appointment by using the online scheduling tool.