Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer forms in the vulva, the area around the external genital organs on a woman. The vulva includes the following parts:

  • Labia —The lips around the opening of the vagina
  • Clitoris — A small mass of tissue at the opening of the vagina
  • Bartholin’s Glands — The small mucus-producing glands on either side of the vaginal opening

In most cases, cancer of the vulva affects the labia. Less often, cancer occurs on the clitoris or in Bartholin’s glands. Over 90 percent of vulvar cancers are considered a type of skin cancer because they begin in the squamous cells, the main cell type of the skin. They usually develop slowly over many years and in their earliest form are not cancerous.

When diagnosed and treated early, vulvar cancer can be cured in more than 90 percent of cases.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.