Vulval Cancer

Vulval or vulvar cancer is, as the name suggests cancer of the vulva. Vulval cancer is very rare. In the UK, about 1,300 diagnoses each year, accounting for less than 1-in-100 cancers in women.

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What is Vulval Cancer

Vulvar cancer is very rare. About 1,300 diagnoses are made in the UK each year, accounting for less than 1-in-100 cancers in women. It is found more commonly in older women, mostly those 65 or over although, around 15 out of every 100 cases are in women under 50. The vulva is the outer part of a womanā€™s genitals and includes the opening of the vagina, and the clitoris but is most commonly found in the labia majora (outer lips) and the labia minora (inner lips).

We work together to combine the highest levels of consultant-led care and patient choice with the most advanced knowledge and understanding of the disease and its forms.

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The precise cause of vulval cancer is not yet known. However, there are certain risk factors that can foster the chances of developing the condition:

Cell changes:Ā Vulval Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VIN) causes changes to the skin of the vulva. VIN is linked to the human papilloma virus (HPV) and although the changes are not cancerous, it is precancerous and if not treated can lead to cancer of the vulva.

Age: The chances of developing vulval cancer increase as you get older.

Smoking:Ā Smoking can increase the risk of developing both VIN and vulval cancer. The chemicals found in cigarettes can affect how your body fights infection.

Skin Conditions:Ā Certain skin conditions such as, Vulval Lichen Sclerosus and Vulval Lichen Planus occurring over a long period (chronic) can mean you have a higher risk of developing vulval cancer.

There are more than one type of vulval cancer, although some of which are very rare;

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Vulval Melanoma
  • Verrucous Carcinoma
  • Sarcoma


Quite often there are no early symptoms for vulval cancer but when they are present the most common are:

  • Pain in the vulva
  • Burning, itching, or soreness of the vulva
  • A wart-like growth on the skin of the vulva, a lump, or swelling
  • Thickened or raised white, red or dark patches on the skin
  • Bleeding or blood-stained discharge
  • Burning pain on passing water


Gynaecological cancer diagnosis, is contingent on what type of cancer is suspected. The varying methods of diagnosis are: pelvic examination, various imaging tests (such as a transvaginal ultrasound used to see the tissues in your womb) colposcopy exams, biopsies (which allow a doctor to see inside the vulva and take tissue samples or dilatation and curettage, where samples of tissue from the inner lining of the vulva are taken).

After confirmation, the stage of a cancer is then determined using scans and a treatment plan created (staging denotes how far a cancer has spread to local tissue or organs).

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

EBRT is delivered via a machine known as a linear accelerator. This produce high-energy external radiation beams that penetrate the tissues and deliver a dose of radiation deep into the cancerous areas. This technology, as well as other state-of-the-art techniques, have empowered oncologists to reduce considerably the side effects of the treatment and improving the delivery of the radiation. It is typically given in an outpatient setting for about 3 to 7 weeks. EBRT starts…

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Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

A simple analogy for IMRT is a shower nozzle that discharges multiple streams of water in different directions, with each stream able to be turned on or off, or pre-set to deliver different intensities. This is not like standard radiation techniques with only a constant flow of radiation from each beam. IMRT is an advanced form of 3-D conformal radiation therapy that lets doctors customise a radiation dose through modulation, varying the amount of radiation…

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Targeted Drug Therapies Immunotherapy

Targeted Drug Therapies Immunotherapy

What is Immunotherapy? Immunotherapy use elements of the immune system to help treat the Cancer. Immunotherapy activates a personā€™s own immune system to identify and target their cancer. You may have immunotherapy on its own, or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. There are different types of immunotherapy. These include monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines or tumour infecting viruses. Immunotherapy and our immune system Our immune system works to protect the body…

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Meet our expert consultants

Dr. Allison Hall

Consultant in Clinical Oncology

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Dr. Shaun Tolan

Consultant in Clinical Oncology

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Dr. Raj Sripadam

Consultant in Clinical Oncology

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