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Overview

Vulvar Cancer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment?

Vulvar cancer can also be referred to as tumour, carcinoma, malignancy.

How is the treatment done?

Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. The vulva is the area of skin that surrounds the urethra and vagina, including the clitoris and labia.Vulvar cancer commonly forms as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching. Though it can occur at any age, vulvar cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older adults.Vulvar cancer treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Sometimes vulvar cancer surgery requires removing the entire vulva. The earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment.Treatment options for vulvar cancer depend on the type and stage of your cancer, your overall health and your preferences.Surgery to remove vulvar cancer.Operations used to treat vulvar cancer include:Removing the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue (excision).

This procedure, which may also be called a wide local excision or radical excision, involves cutting out the cancer and a small amount of normal tissue that surrounds it. Cutting out what doctors refer to as a margin of normal-looking tissue helps ensure that all of the cancerous cells have been removed.More extensive surgery. Surgery to remove part of the vulva (partial vulvectomy) or the entire vulva, including the underlying tissue (radical vulvectomy), may be an option for larger cancers. However, doctors may recommend combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumor before surgery, which may allow for a less extensive operation.Surgery to remove the entire vulva carries a risk of complications, such as infection and problems with healing around the incision.Surgery to your vulva may change sensation in your genital area.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Surgery to remove nearby lymph nodes,Vulvar cancer can spread to the lymph nodes in the groin, so your doctor may remove these lymph nodes at the time you undergo surgery to remove the cancer. Depending on your situation, your doctor may remove only a few lymph nodes or many lymph nodes.Removing lymph nodes can cause fluid retention and leg swelling, a condition called lymphedema.In certain situations, surgeons may use a technique that allows them to remove fewer lymph nodes. Called sentinel lymph node biopsy, this procedure involves identifying the lymph node where the cancer is most likely to spread first. The surgeon then removes that lymph node for testing. If cancer cells aren't found in that lymph node, then it's unlikely that cancer cells have spread to other lymph nodes.Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells.

Radiation therapy for vulvar cancer is usually administered by a machine that moves around your body and directs radiation to precise points on your skin (external beam radiation).Radiation therapy is sometimes used to shrink large vulvar cancers in order to make it more likely that surgery will be successful. Radiation is sometimes combined with chemotherapy, which can make cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation therapy.If cancer cells are discovered in your lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend radiation to the area around your lymph nodes to kill any cancer cells that might remain after surgery. Radiation is sometimes combined with chemotherapy in these situations.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Signs of vulvar cancer may include:Itching that doesn't go away,Pain and tenderness,Bleeding that isn't from menstruation,Skin changes, such as color changes or thickening,A lump, wartlike bumps or an open sore (ulcer).Although the exact cause of vulvar cancer isn't known, certain factors appear to increase your risk of the disease, including:Increasing age. The risk of vulvar cancer increases with age, though it can occur at any age. The average age at diagnosis is 65.Being exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that increases the risk of several cancers & including vulvar cancer and cervical cancer. Many young, sexually active people are exposed to HPV, but for most the infection goes away on its own.

For some, the infection causes cell changes and increases the risk of cancer in the future.Smoking. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of vulvar cancer.Having a weakened immune system. People who take medications to suppress the immune system, such as those who've undergone organ transplant, and those with conditions that weaken the immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have an increased risk of vulvar cancer.Having a history of precancerous conditions of the vulva.

Are there any side effects?

Although the exact cause of vulvar cancer isn’t known, there are certain risk factors associated with the condition. These include: being 55 or older, smoking, having vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, having HIV or AIDS, having a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, having a history of genital warts, having a skin condition that can affect the vulva, such as lichen planus.If there are no such signs then you are out of danger.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There may be some treatment complications you experience once the treatment is finished, which are:Change in bowel,Infections,Changes in skin color around the vulva,Abnormal urination,Discomfort during sexual intercourse,Fatigue and weakness,Upset stomach,Diarrhea, Nausea and vomiting,Low blood counts,Mouth or vaginal sores,Temporary hair loss.Other complications of vulvar and groin node surgery include formation of fluid-filled cysts near the surgical wounds, blood clots that may travel to the lungs, urinary infections, and reduction of sexual desire or pleasure.After vulvar surgery, women often feel discomfort if they wear tight slacks or jeans because the "padding" around the urethral opening and vaginal entrance is gone. The area around the vagina also looks very different.

How long does it take to recover?

After completing vulvar cancer treatment, your doctor may recommend periodic follow-up exams to look for a cancer recurrence. Even after successful treatment, vulvar cancer can return. Your doctor will determine the schedule of follow-up exams that's right for you, but doctors generally recommend exams two to four times each year for the first two years after vulvar cancer treatment.Your long-term outlook depends on the stage of the cancer and the size of the tumor. The survival rate is quite high when vulvar cancer is diagnosed and treated early. In fact, the relative five-year survival rate is approximately 86 percent if the cancer is classified as stage 1. This means that 86 percent of people who are diagnosed with stage 1 vulvar cancer live for at least five years after their cancer is diagnosed.

However, once vulvar cancer is more advanced and classified as stage 4, the five-year survival rate drops to about 16 percent.It’s important to note that survival rates vary depending on: the type of treatment used, the effectiveness of the treatment, your age, your overall health.It’s important to have a strong support network that can help you deal with the challenges that come along with a cancer diagnosis. You should speak with a counselor, family member, or close friend about any stress and anxiety you may be feeling. You might also want to consider joining a cancer support group, where you can discuss your concerns with others who can relate to what you’re experiencing. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area

What is the price of the treatment in India?

You will probably go home with staples or steri- strips (thin white Band-Aids) if you had groin nodes removed. They will help your incision heal. Staples are metal clips that are used in addition to sutures to help close the incision. Your incision may be slightly red around the stitches or staples. This is normal. The staples are removed 10-14 days after surgery. You should call to schedule an appointment with the nurse to have them removed.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

It can cost anywhere between Rs1.5 lakhs - 2 lakhs

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The outlook for vulval cancer depends on things such as how far the cancer has spread, your age, and your general health. Generally, the earlier the cancer is detected and the younger you are, the better the chances of treatment being successful.Overall, around 6 in every 10 women diagnosed with vulval cancer will survive at least five years. However, even after successful treatment, the cancer comes back in up to one in every three cases. You'll need regular follow-up appointments so your doctor can check if this is happening.

Safety: Disease Effectiveness: Low Timeliness: Low Relative Risk: High Side Effects: Low Time For Recovery: Low Price Range:

Rs1.5 lakhs - 2 lakhs

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Table of Content

What is the treatment?
How is the treatment done?
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Are there any side effects?
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
How long does it take to recover?
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
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