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Vulvar Cancer

Our Approach

A team of some of the nation's top experts gives you its full attention when you are treated for vulvar cancer in MD Anderson's Gynecologic Oncology Center. They concentrate on customizing your care to include the most-advanced treatments with the least impact on your body.

These physicians target vulvar cancer with the latest technology and treatments, while focusing on quality of life. In order to personalize care and optimize outcomes, each team includes doctors from many specialties, including radiation oncology, radiology, pathology, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. They are joined by a support staff specially trained in caring for women with vulvar cancer.

As one of the nation's top cancer centers, we care for more women with vulvar cancer each year than many oncologists see in a lifetime. This gives us an extraordinary level of experience and expertise, which may help you have a higher chance for successful treatment.  

And at MD Anderson you're surrounded by the strength of one of the nation's largest and most experienced comprehensive cancer centers, which has all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person – not just the disease.

Surgical Skill

This experience is especially important if you need surgery for vulvar cancer, which often is complex and delicate. MD Anderson surgeons, who are among the best in the nation, are highly skilled in the least invasive procedures, which are good options for some women.

If you are a candidate for reconstructive surgery after treatment for vulvar cancer, our plastic surgeons use the most advanced techniques available. They are specialized and experienced – which can have a huge impact on surgical success.

Innovative Research

MD Anderson has led development of many of the current therapies and diagnostic methods for vulvar cancer, including less-invasive surgery, sentinel node biopsy and surgical reconstruction.

And we continue to investigate newer, more advanced treatments for vulvar cancer. We are one of the top research sites in the country, which means we offer a number of clinical trials for vulvar cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with vulvar cancer, it is important to be seen by expert doctors. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • High level of expertise in vulvar cancer
  • Less-invasive vulvar cancer surgery options, including sentinel node biopsy
  • Newest imaging technologies to detect vulvar cancer spread
  • Skilled reconstructive surgeons use advanced surgical techniques
  • Combined therapies for advanced vulvar cancer
  • Range of clinical trials of new vulvar cancer treatments

Vulvar Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

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Vulvar Cancer Facts

Vulvar cancer is rare. According to the American Cancer Society, about 4,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with it each year. This accounts for fewer than 1% of cancers in women overall and about 4% of cancers of the female reproductive organs. Vulvar cancer usually grows slowly and may begin as precancerous changes that can be treated before they become cancer.  

The vulva, which is part of a woman’s genitals, is at the opening of the vagina (birth canal). It includes the following main parts: 

Opening of the vagina

Bartholin glands, which help lubricate the vagina during sex. One is on each side of the opening of the vagina.

Two skin folds around the opening of the vagina:

  • Outer lips (labia majora), which are larger and have hair
  • Inner lips (labia minora), which are small and do not have hair

Clitoris, which helps a woman feel sexual stimulation

Vulvar Cancer Types

Vulvar cancer types are named after the cells in which they begin. The main types of vulvar cancer are:

Squamous cell, which is a wart-like growth. Verrucous vulvar cancer is a subtype. This cancer often can be treated successfully. It is the main type of vulvar cancer.

Adenocarcinoma usually starts in the Bartholin glands or sweat glands in the vulva. These make up about 8% of vulvar cancers. Paget disease of the vulva is a type of adenocarcinoma in which the cancer cells are in the top layer of skin.

Melanoma is a skin cancer that starts in cells that make pigment.

Sarcomas may be found in children as well as adults. These rare types of vulvar cancer start in the muscles or bones.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center