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Vaginal melanoma

This page tells you about vaginal melanoma. There is information about


Melanoma and melanocyte cells

Melanoma is a cancer that starts in cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are pigment producing cells. They are mostly found in the skin. Most melanomas develop in parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. But you can get them anywhere, including in body organs, because there are melanocytes in these areas too. That is why you sometimes hear melanoma of the skin called cutaneous melanoma. Cutaneous means of the skin. It is still not clear why melanomas can form in parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun.


Vaginal and vulval melanoma

About 2 in every 100 melanomas (2%) are diagnosed in the vagina or vulva. White women are at higher risk of vulval melanoma than black women. Vulval melanoma is most often found in women older than 50. The signs and symptoms of vaginal and vulval melanoma can include

  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Pain

But in some cases, a doctor finds vaginal or vulval melanoma during a routine cervical screening test when the vagina and vulva are also examined.  

Read more about cancer of the vagina or cancer of the vulva.  And read about the symptoms of vaginal cancer


Treating vaginal melanoma

Vaginal melanoma is usually treated with surgery and or radiotherapy.

Read more about the treatment of vaginal cancer


Melanoma and sun exposure

Even though some melanomas grow in parts of the body that don't see the sun, it is still very important to remember that the best way to keep your risk of melanoma or other skin cancers as low as possible is to avoid being in the sun too much. It is extremely important to look after your skin and report any signs or symptoms of skin cancer to your doctor immediately. 

If you have melanoma in an unusual site such as genital skin or inside the nose or sinuses, your treatment will be planned by a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The team will include skin melanoma specialists and surgeons and oncologists who normally treat genital cancer or cancers inside the nose and sinuses.

Read more about how to look after your skin and signs or symptoms of melanomas. And read about how to help prevent skin cancer

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Updated: 9 December 2015