Vulva cancer is a form of cancer that is located in the external area of the female genitalia. While this cancer is rare, it is usually found in women of an older age. The vulva is comprised of the opening to the vagina, the labia, the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus), and the clitoris. Vulva cancer can affect any of these areas, but it is usually found in the labia.
It is estimated that the labia is affected in nearly seventy percent of all cases of vulva cancer. Another fifteen to twenty percent of cases affect the perineum, and an additional fifteen to twenty percent affect the clitoris. About five percent of cases have cancer that is found in more than just one particular area, and ten percent of all cases cannot have the origin of the cancer traced back to one spot. Vulva cancer does spread and can eventually affect areas such as the vagina, the anus, and the urethra.
The majority of types of vulva cancer are referred to as squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cells are the most common types of cells found in the skin. This type of carcinoma usually begins in the area that surrounds the vagina, or the area found on the edges of the labia. Vulva cancer is a slow growing cancer and often starts as condition that is precancerous and is called dysplasia, or vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). This condition simply states that there are cells that are considered to be precancerous located in the layers of the skin.
Less commonly found forms of vulva caner include adenocarcinomas, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, Paget’s disease of the vulva, and tumors of the connective tissues. Melanoma is the second most common type of vulva cancer and is found in roughly five to ten percent of all cases. Adenocarcinomas form in the glands, such as those that are located close to the opening of the vagina and produce fluid and mucus for lubrication. Basal cell carcinoma is the most often located in areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, so this condition is not usually seen on the vulva. That being said, they can still appear anywhere there are skin cells, which include the vulva.
As mentioned above, vulva cancer usually affects women who are advanced in age, typically over the age of fifty. Most diagnoses are made in women between the ages of sixty five and seventy. Beside age alone, there are other risk factors for this type of cancer including: cervical cancer, having multiple sexual partners, vaginal inflammations, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Cancer of the vulva is a slow growing cancer that can be in the body for a number of years before any symptoms appear. When symptoms do finally become evident, they may include the following: swelling, pain, lumps, growths, soreness, burning, a mole that has changed shape or color, itching, bleeding or a discharge that is blood tinged, burning during urination, or thick raised red, dark, or white patches of skin.
Because the symptoms associated with early stages of vulva cancer are quite subtle, and can be attributed to a variety of less serious conditions, it is not uncommon that they are dismissed or ignored for a period of time. When proper testing or further investigating is not done, medical negligence may have occurred, and you may have grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit.
In order for a proper diagnosis to be made, a complete physical examination needs to be done, a check of the vulva using a magnifier should also be done, and blood tests or x-rays may be ordered as well. An examination of the internal reproductive organs, such as the cervix by means of a speculum may also be necessary. The doctor will most likely insist upon biopsying the area in order to collect samples of tissue to be sent off for examination in a laboratory setting under a microscope. Depending on what the preliminary tests, as well as the biopsy reveals, follow up tests such as an examination under anesthesia (commonly referred to as an EUA), a magnetic resonance imaging scan (commonly referred to as an MRI), a positron emission tomography scan (commonly referred to as a PET scan), or a computerized tomography scan (commonly referred to as a CT scan) may be ordered to check the lymph nodes for cancer.
If for any reason these tests are not ordered in a timely manner, the cancer could spread to other areas of the body which could cause the prognosis for a successful recovery to diminish. This is truly devastating for the patient because in many cases, this form of cancer is treatable. When a doctor does not act expeditiously and treat the patient’s complaints seriously to rule out or in any more serious conditions, malpractice could have taken place, and a patient may be able to seek compensation for his or her damages.
Just as it is important to seek prompt medical attention for any condition you believe is serious, it is just as important to seek prompt legal help should you be the victim of medical negligence. Most states have strict statutes of limitations that must be adhered to in order to file a claim. Not knowing these statutes or not filing in time can reduce your chances of a favorable outcome, and may cause your case to be dismissed completely.
Hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your claim can remove a tremendous amount of worry. These professionals will review the details of your case, assess its validity, collect medical records, interview medical professionals, and file all legal paperwork on your behalf. Best of all, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing upfront. Not having to worry about how to fund your claim will provide you with great peace of mind and the ability to focus on your personal recovery. You should not suffer in silence, and you should not hesitate to hold those responsible accountable.
Source by Chris N. Jackson