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Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers


Cancers of the vagina are very rare and arise in the cells lining the vaginal canal. There are many kinds of vaginal cancer - squamous cell and adenocarcinoma are the most common and typically related to the human papillomavirus (HPV). 

Vaginal cancers are usually diagnosed during routine pelvic exam or by a pap smear. Treatment depends on the stage of cancer and may include surgery in early stages or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation in more advanced cases. 

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Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. The vulva is the area of skin that surrounds the urethra and vagina, including the clitoris and labia.

Vulvar cancer commonly forms as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching. Though it can occur at any age, vulvar cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older women (age > 70).

Vulvar cancer treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Sometimes vulvar cancer surgery requires removing the entire vulva and removing lymph nodes from the groin regions. The earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment. Depending on the stage of cancer, chemotherapy and radiation are sometimes recommended after surgery.

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