Coordinated, comprehensive, cutting-edge vulvar and vaginal cancer care, from diagnosis through survivorship.
At Middlesex Health, our approach to treating vulvar and vaginal cancers - which are less common but affect the outer regions of the female reproductive system - is multidisciplinary. Your team of healthcare providers will meet regularly to plan and discuss your treatment, to ensure that we are meeting your unique physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Our online Learning Center has up-to-date, evidence-based information about numerous topics related to vulvar and vaginal cancers, including diagnostic tests, treatment options, management of treatment side effects, and more.
These resources are not a substitute for the guidance of your physician but can help you learn more about vulvar and vaginal cancers and what to expect during treatment. All content is provided courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Health Library.
Vulvar and vaginal cancers have similar signs & symptoms, which will occur on/in the vulva or the vagina. These may include:
- a bump, lump, sore, or ulcer
If you are having any of these symptoms, which can also be signs of non-cancerous conditions, it is important to speak to your physician.
Early detection of cancer can be key to successful treatment, so it is important to understand what increases your risk of vulvar and vaginal cancers. Risk factors can include:
- having Lichen Sclerosus
- having Human Papilloma Virus
- being HIV positive
- older age
There are several different types of tests for vulvar and vaginal cancers.
- Pelvic Exam: A physical examination of the external and internal female pelvic organs.
- Pelvic Ultrasound: A scan of the organs and structures of the pelvis. There are two types of ultrasound:
- transabdominal: a "wand" with gel is placed on the outside of the abdomen (belly area)
- transvaginal: a "wand" covered with a plastic or latex sheet and gel is placed into the vagina
- CT Scan: The combination of a series of x-rays to create detailed images of the inside of your abdomen and pelvis.
- Biopsy: A small amount of tissue is removed from the vulva or vagina. The doctor will then examine the tissue to check for abnormal and cancerous cells.
- PET Scan: A scan of the entire body to determine if cancer has spread elsewhere in your body. PET scans can sometimes detect disease before it shows up on other imaging tests.
The evidence-based treatment plan your doctors choose is based on a number of factors: type of cancer, grade and stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
Surgery is used to remove cancerous tissue from the body. Many vulvar patients need one of two types of vulvectomy:
- a simple vulvectomy: the vulva is removed
- a radical vulvectomy: part or all of the vulva and some of the deep tissue is removed
Chemotherapy for gynecologic cancers involves the use of medications to shrink or kill cancerous cells. These medications may be taken intravenously (IV) or as pills.
The board-certified medical oncologists, nurses, and technicians at Connecticut Oncology Group provide the most effective, advanced care with warm, personal attention and support for patients and their families. Your medical oncology team will work closely with your other providers and help provide access to clinical trials.
Radiation oncology is the highly-controlled use of radiation to cure or treat symptoms of your cancer.