Symptoms of vulval cancer

The most common symptoms of vulval cancer are:

  • itching, burning or soreness of the vulva that doesn’t go away
  • a lump, swelling or wart-like growth on the vulva
  • thickened, raised, red, white or dark patches on the skin of the vulva
  • bleeding, or a blood-stained vaginal discharge, not related to menstruation (periods)
  • burning pain when passing urine
  • tenderness or pain in the area of the vulva
  • a sore or ulcerated area on the vulva
  • a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour.

All of these symptoms can happen with conditions other than cancer, but it’s always important to get your doctor to check them.

Vulval cancer can take many years to develop. It usually starts with pre-cancerous cells that change slowly over several years into cancerous cells. As with other cancers, it’s easier to treat and cure if it’s diagnosed at an early stage.

Back to Understanding vulva cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

Types of vulval cancer

Cancer of the vulva is rare. There are different types of vulval cancer. The most common is called squamous cell carcinoma.

The vulva and lymphatic system

The vulva is the area of skin between a woman’s legs. There are lymph nodes in the groin (the area at the top of your legs) which are close to the vulva.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.