Vulvar Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment - A Detailed Guide

Vulvar cancer management demands a comprehensive approach, wherein the specialists will recommend a battery of tests for an accurate diagnosis, obtain crucial information, such as its type, stage, and grade, and devise a personalized treatment plan that suits best for each individual case.

10 Effective Vulvar Cancer Diagnosis Tests

A vulvar cancer diagnosis is one done using multiple tests. Some of these tests allow specialists to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis, and others help with vulvar cancer staging and treatment planning. Initially, specialists will recommend a physical examination and a medical history assessment. If the observations from these tests are alarming, additional tests will be recommended. The following are the important tests recommended for vulvar cancer diagnosis.

Physical Exam

When an individual presents with vulvar cancer symptoms, the doctor will recommend a physical exam. The doctor will visually inspect the vulvar area for signs of cancer, such as abnormal growths or lumps, lesions, and changes in the appearance and texture of the vulva. The patient’s medical history will also be discussed to understand the causes of the symptoms observed.

If the observations from these evaluations are concerning, the doctor will recommend additional tests.


A biopsy involves the collection of a tissue sample from the suspected area, which includes the vulva and nearby regions, and its microscopic examination to look for any abnormal changes that may indicate cancer.

A biopsy is often recommended for a conclusive vulvar cancer diagnosis. It is also helpful in determining the type of vulvar cancer and its grade.


Colposcopy is a non-invasive examination tool wherein the doctor will use a magnifying instrument to closely examine the cervix, vaginal walls, and nearby regions. This procedure helps identify suspicious areas that may require further investigation or a biopsy, supporting a definitive understanding of the condition.

Cervical Screening Test

A Pap smear, or Pap test, is primarily recommended for cervical cancer screening. However, occasionally, it may reveal some abnormalities in the cervical cells that could be related to vulvar conditions. It is not a reliable test for vulvar cancer diagnosis, and further tests, such as a biopsy, are required for a conclusive diagnosis.

Other Tests

In some cases, the doctor may recommend additional tests to determine the extent of the disease or stage. These tests play a pivotal role in ruling out other conditions and arriving at a comprehensive diagnosis.

Effective Vulvar Cancer Treatments


Surgery is the first line of treatment for vulvar cancer, and it can be customized depending on the stage of the tumor. Vulvar cancer surgery aims to eliminate cancerous cells along with a small portion of healthy cells, called the margin. Vulvar surgery procedures may involve the removal of tumors, surrounding tissues, and, if necessary, lymph nodes to ensure comprehensive treatment.

Surgery is also recommended as a vulvar melanoma treatment option, where the melanoma tissue is removed surgically along with a small margin of healthy tissues surrounding it.


Chemotherapy utilizes powerful drugs to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be administered before surgery to shrink tumors, after surgery to eliminate residual cancer cells, or as a primary treatment for vulvar cancers in advanced stages. Chemotherapy may also be administered in combination with other approaches to improve the overall efficacy of the vulvar carcinoma treatment.

Radiation Therapy

One of the effective treatments for vulvar cancer, radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams, which could be X-rays, gamma rays, or particle beams (protons and electrons), to target and destroy cancer cells.

Radiation for vulvar cancer can be administered as a primary treatment or in combination with surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy for vulvar cancer may be recommended to shrink the tumor, destroy residual cancer cells, and provide relief from pain and discomfort in patients with advanced-stage vulvar cancer.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is an essential component of vulvar cancer management, and it focuses on improving the quality of life for individuals with vulvar cancer. It addresses pain, discomfort, and emotional well-being, offering supportive care alongside curative treatments.

Targeted Drug Therapy

Targeted therapy is a new-age treatment for vulvar cancer. It targets specific molecules and cellular pathways involved in cancer growth, limiting damage to healthy cells. Not all cases of vulvar cancer can be treated with this approach. It is only recommended when certain molecular characteristics are identified, providing a more personalized and effective treatment strategy.


Immunotherapy is also a newly available treatment for vulvar cancer. It involves re-engineering the body's immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy may not be a standard treatment approach for vulvar cancer. However, it may be recommended in cases where the patient has exhausted their treatment options.

Coping and Support for Vulvar Cancer

Being diagnosed with vulvar cancer can be overwhelming. However, it is possible to make your cancer journey less stressful through various healthy coping strategies. The following are some of the important coping strategies that you can adopt:

Why Choose HCG for Vulvar Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment?

As one of the best cancer hospitals in India, HCG is well-known for its expertise in diagnosing, treating, and managing vulvar cancer. Specialists at HCG employ a multidisciplinary and personalized treatment approach wherein patients are at the heart of their treatment journey. At HCG, the core services of surgical oncology, medical oncology, and radiation oncology are supported by allied services, such as pain management, supportive care, onco-dietetics, and psycho-oncology counseling, to offer holistic care to vulvar cancer patients.


Vulvar cancer management demands a comprehensive and patient-centric approach. Due to the impact that vulvar cancer can have on body image and confidence, the care approach needs to be as considerate and empathetic as possible. Depending on the stage of the disease, multiple treatment approaches available for vulvar cancer management include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Weight loss can be a symptom of advanced vulvar cancer, but it's not a universal indicator. Other conditions can also cause weight loss. Therefore, it is important to see a specialist for a proper evaluation.

Topical creams are often recommended for precancerous vulvar lesions. These creams usually contain chemotherapy drugs that, when applied to the lesions, can destroy the precancerous cells. It is important to note that these creams may not be effective for invasive vulvar cancers.

Apart from recommending them as a treatment for vulvar cancer, doctors also recommend creams to manage the itching associated with vulvar cancer. These creams often contain emollients or topical steroids that help soothe the irritation. That said, one must contact a specialist for appropriate recommendations.

The likelihood of vulvar cancer recurrence varies based on factors like stage, treatment success, and individual health. Follow-up care after the cancer treatment helps with response monitoring and early detection.

Recovery time depends on the stage of vulvar cancer during the diagnosis, the treatments recommended, and the response shown by the patient. It may range from weeks to months. Post-treatment care and follow-ups are essential for optimal recovery.

The spread of vulvar cancer is assessed through various diagnostic tests, including imaging, biopsies, and lymph node examinations. The extent of spread guides treatment decisions and prognosis discussions with healthcare providers.

Vulvar cancer demands a comprehensive treatment approach for its effective management. The success rates of vulvar cancer treatment depend on multiple factors, such as the type of vulvar cancer, its stage, and the patient’s overall health condition. Early-stage vulvar cancers have better success rates than advanced-stage vulvar cancers.

We cannot identify one particular treatment as the best treatment for vulvar cancer, as no two cases of vulvar cancer are the same. Each case of vulvar cancer demands a comprehensive diagnostic approach and a tailor-made treatment plan. The best treatment approach for the effective management of vulvar cancer involves carefully studying the individual patient parameters and devising a treatment plan that comprises one or more treatment options that are suitable for those parameters.