Vulvar cancer

Medical Specialties: Dermatology, Obstetrics/gynecology, Oncology

Clinical Definition

Vulvar cancer is a rare form of cancer in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the vulva. While it can occur at any age, it is most common in older, postmenopausal women.

In Our Own Words

Vulvar cancer most often occurs on the inner edges of the labia, which is the area of the skin outside the urethra and vagina. Common symptoms include itchiness and the presence of a lump, ulcer or warty area on the labia.


Risk factors for vulvar cancer include smoking and infection with a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be contracted during intercourse. A vaccine to protect against HPV types associated with cancer can be given to girls starting at the age of 9. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Vulvar pruritus
  • Cancer
Common Types
  • Squamous cell carcinomas
  • Melanoma
Side Effects
  • Itching, burning or bleeding on the vulva that doesn’t go away
  • Color changes on the vulva skin
  • Skin changes on the vulva that look like a rash or warts
  • Sores, lumps or ulcers on the vulva
  • Pelvic pain, especially during urination or intercourse
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Vulvar Cancer.” Updated October 2012. Accessed September 2013.
  • American Cancer Society. “What is Vulvar Cancer?” Updated February 2013. Accessed October 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer.” Updated September 2013. Accessed October 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker