Clare Baumhauer, age 44, was diagnosed with cancer. Her story is going viral and she’s pleading with women everywhere to familiarize themselves with the symptoms.
Clare has had itching in the vulva area ever since adolescence, but doctors always treated it as an irritation, herpes or cystitis, according to The World News. She never imagined how far off from the truth the doctors were.
Clare was frustrated and embarrassed when she couldn’t receive a clear answer or solution to her problem, and she experienced her symptoms through adulthood. When she developed an ulcer and the age of 30, she went back to the doctor, only to be misdiagnosed with a type of sclerosis. Another ten years passed before the doctors correctly diagnosed her.
She was finally diagnosed with vulvar cancer, and her menopause came early because of the radiation therapy and treatments she had to go through.
The itch that caused the cancer
Clare was eventually diagnosed with Lichen Sclerosus, a skin condition that increases the risk of vulvar cancer.
If this condition would have been treated early on in her life, her risk of cancer would have lowered. Her diagnosis started small, but developed over the many years she suffered from it. She had surgery to remove the affected area, but had to go through radiation therapy to completely get rid of the cancer.
What you need to know about Lichen Sclerosus
It’s a skin condition that produces patches of thin skin anywhere on the body, but it mostly occurs in the genital area.
Women can develop this condition at any age, but women in menopause are more prone.
Treatment isn’t necessary in some cases, but you should still consult a doctor.
There is no cure, but it can be controlled.
According to Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms you shouldn’t ignore:
Discomfort or pain in the affected area
Soft white patches on your skin
Red, wrinkled skin
Bruised skin or skin that bruises easily
Bleeding, blisters and ulcers may occur in severe cases
Pain during intimacy
If any of these symptoms occur, you should consult the doctor and mention all symptoms. Don’t withhold any information.
What you should know about Vulvar Cancer
The vulva is the outer area of a woman’s genitals. It includes the vagina, the labia majora and the labia minora.
According to the American Cancer Society, this type of cancer affects the major or minor lip.
Risk factors include age (less than 20 percent of women with this cancer are under 50), smoking, AIDS, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal cells on the vulva’s surface), Lichen Sclerosus, other types of genital cancers and certain skin cancers.
Is it preventable?
According to the American Cancer Society, part of prevention is reducing risk factors we can control.
Stop smoking, avoid casual sex and go to the gynecologist annually. Pay attention to the color of the skin, the appearance and make note of any changes. And of course, if you itch in that area, check with a doctor instead of buying some over-the-counter cream.
This article was adapted and translated from the original “Madre es diagnosticada con cáncer de vulva luego de sufrir de comezón en su parte íntima; los síntomas de este cáncer que se confunden o ignoran” which was originally published on familias.com.