Working in a dry cleaners can increase your risk of vulva cancer.
Vulva Cancer Prevention
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|Can Vulva Cancer Be Prevented?
As the cause of cancer is still not clear, making recommendations for prevention is not straight forward. Although many risk factors have been identified, women who display none of those risk factors can still develop the disease. Consequently it is more a matter of applying common sense. Ideally the best thing to do is find and treat precancerous conditions such as VIN early. This will prevent cancer from developing. Additionally it is worth avoiding the risk factors described below which are directly related to cancer of the vulva.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) does constitute a risk factor for cancer of the vulva (as well as cancer of the vagina and cervical cancer). A HPV infection can be passed from person to person by skin contact during sexual acts (vaginal, anal and oral sex). HPV tends to occur in women under 30 more often than older women. It usually causes no symptoms and most people do not know they have been infected. In 90 percent of cases the virus clears from the body of its own accord within 2 years. But in some cases the DNA of the virus remains in the cells of the woman's vulva, vagina and/or cervix. This can lead to precancerous changes. See vaginal cancer prevention for more details on HPV and the vaccine Gardasil.
Any precancerous abnormality that occurs in the vulva which is not producing symptoms can be found during routine gynecologic pelvic examinations. If symptoms do occur between checkups, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes persistent itching is not thrush or a yeast infection, but an early sign of vulvar cancer. If VIN is discovered then treating it (see how with vulva cancer treatment) can prevent true cancer from starting. A regular Pap test is recommended by the American Cancer of Society for the detection of early cervix cancer, but it may also detect vulva abnormalities. According to new guidelines by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Pap tests are recommended for women:
Under the age of 30: Every 2 years for all women as soon as they become sexually active or from the age of 21 onwards - whichever comes first.
As lack of cleanliness around the genital area may be considered a risk factor for vulva cancer (although this has not been scientifically proven) it is a good idea to practice the following:
• Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination.
Every woman should perform a self examination of their vulva once a month (Vulvar Self Examination, or VSE). As with a breast self examination, she will become familiar with the appearance of her body, in this case her vulva. She will then be more likely as a result to note any changes indicating symptoms of vulva cancer. To perform a VSE:
• After a bath or shower sit on the bed and support your back with pillows.
What To Look At
1. Check the area above the vagina (mons pubis) where the pubic hair is. Look carefully for any signs of warts, rashes, ulcers or skin changes.
What To Look For
If you find any of the following report them to a doctor as soon as possible:
|Related Articles on Vulvar Cancers
For more on the issue, see the following:
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