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Screening

There is no national screening for vulval cancer. Read about screening and why it is not suitable for vulval cancer.

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

There is no national screening programme for vulval cancer because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

Vulval examination

The cervical screening test (smear test) does not screen for vulval cancer. But when you have your smear test, the nurse or doctor should routinely examine your vulva. They may be able to see signs of abnormal cells.

Some doctors recommend that you look at your own vulva regularly to look for any changes to the skin.

Last reviewed: 
25 Jan 2019
  • The Vulva: Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology
    MA Farage and HI Maibach
    CRC Press, 19 Apr 2016 - Medical

  • Guidelines for the Diagnosis and management of Vulval Carcinoma
    British Gynaecological Cancer Society and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, May 2014

  • Cancer of the Vulva

    FIGO cancer report 2018

    L Rogers and M Cuello

    International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 2018. Vol 143,  Issue S2, Pages 4-13

     

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