Vulvar cancer is one of the gynecological cancers and accounts for around 4% of such cancer types. It is characterized by malignant growth in the vulva, which is an outer part of the female genitals. Most likely, this cancer affects elder women. Cancer of the vulva can be mainly classified into 5 types squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, and melanoma. Out of these types, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type that affects almost 90% patients.
There are several risk factors associated with this cancer type including age, human papilloma virus, smoking, other genital cancers and melanoma. A woman, in the United States of America, has 1 in 406 chances of developing cancer of the vulva.
There are a few pre-cancerous stages, if diagnosis is done at such stages, it is possible to treat malignancy and a better life expectancy can be expected in patients. Also, it is possible to prevent some of the risk factors, which are avoidable such as smoking, and infection from Human Papilloma Virus. Although, preventing these risk factors cannot guarantee that you will not develop vulvar cancer, but in fact significantly reduce your chances of developing malignancy of the vulva.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of this cancer type and undergoing regular pelvic examinations can arrest any abnormal growth in the genital regions and helps in early detection of any malignant growth.
After a woman presents the signs and symptoms of any abnormal growth in the genital region, it should be thoroughly examined and if it is cancerous growth, immediate treatment should begin. It is crucial that cancer treatment begins at an early stage for a better life expectancy. Apart from the stage at which the malignancy is detected and the treatment begins, there are several other factors that can affect life expectancy of a patient.
Survival Rate and Life Expectancy
There is a steady increase in the life expectancy of patients suffering cancer of the vulva. Early and careful examinations as well as an informed patient aid in prompt diagnosis. Squamous cell carcinoma, diagnosed by biopsy, can be best treated with local excision, which offers 5 year survival rate in 84% of patients.
For the patients diagnosed with invasive malignancy, are eligible for bilateral groin node dissection and radical vulvectomy. Life expectancy drops significantly with advanced stage of the cancer. Statistics suggest 50% people can live for 5 years after being detected with and treated for advanced stage of cancer. However, if the cancer has metastasized and spread to pelvis region and other distant locations, around 29% of the patients can live up to 5 years and only 16% can survive after 10 years.
Factors Affecting Life Expectancy
It is difficult to apply the survival rate and life expectancy rule to every other patient diagnosed with cancer as these are relative terms and vary according to the patient. There are a lot of factors which decide the life expectancy of a particular patient. Such factors can be the age of the patient younger patients respond well to any treatment, treatment technique used surgical treatment can risk life expectancy in advanced stage, immune of the patient, adaptability to a treatment, positivity and regularity in follow-up treatments.
Vulvar cancer is one of the genital cancers in women. Regular pelvic examinations and patients aware of the signs and symptoms of malignancy of vulva can help in prompt and timely detection of the disease. Prompt detection together with appropriate treatment technique can offer better life expectancy to the patients.