Vulvar Cancer

What is vulvar cancer?

Vulvar cancer forms in the external part of the female genitals. The most common type is squamous cell carcinoma. This type starts in the main type of skin cells called squamous cells. Some abnormal cells are considered pre-cancerous and are treated differently than invasive vulvar cancers.

Other types of skin cancers (such as melanoma, sarcoma, and basal cell carcinoma) can form in the vulva, but these are rare.

More information about vulvar cancer (American Cancer Society)

What vulvar cancer is not 

Vulvar cancer is not the same as cancers that start in other organs (such as the cervix, uterus, vagina, or bladder) and then spread to the vulva. Each gynecologic cancer has different symptoms, outlooks, and treatments.


It’s possible that you could have one or more of the following tests (not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging (computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET))


Depending on your unique set of conditions and how far the disease has spread, your treatment could include one or more of the following treatments (not all of these will apply to your condition):

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Topical chemotherapy (drug or ointment applied to the skin)
  • Clinical trial
  • Follow-up care including lab tests and physical exams

Your full team of care providers work closely together to review your diagnostic tests and identify the best course of treatment particular to you. Your team helps you understand your diagnosis and what to expect with any treatment you have.