VIN and vulval cancer
Many conditions cause vulval itch, or pruritus. Changes in the
vulval skin may be noticeable, but this does not necessarily indicate
One cause of vulval itching is lichen sclerosis. This is a distressing
condition that affects mainly elderly women. Although harmless in itself,
women with lichen sclerosis have an increased risk of developing vulval
Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN for short) is a pre-cancerous
condition, and is associated with infection with a virus called the
wart virus. VIN is not a cancer but it means that the cells are abnormal
and have the potential to become cancerous.
It is often not possible to distinguish between a non- cancerous
condition and early cancer by appearance alone. VIN and vulval cancer
may cause no symptoms, and VIN may appear normal to the naked eye.
Vulval cancer spreads directly into the tissues next to the vulva,
including the vagina, urethra, bladder and anus. Early spread or metastasis
occurs though the lymph fluid channels into the lymph glands in the
groin, and then to the lymph glands in the pelvis. Less commonly, metastasis
occurs through the bloodstream, causing tumours to grow in distant sites
such as the lungs and brain.