Complications of vulval cancer

The emotional impact of living with vulval cancer can be significant. Many people report experiencing a kind of roller-coaster effect.

You may feel down at receiving a diagnosis, feel up when the cancer has been removed from your body and then feel down again as you try to come to terms with the after-effects of surgery.

This can sometimes trigger feelings of depression. Signs that you may be depressed include:

  • feeling down or hopeless
  • no longer take pleasure in things you enjoy

If you think you may be depressed, your GP for advice. There are a range of successful treatments for depression such as antidepressant medication and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Due to its rarity there are no dedicated charities or support groups for women with vulval cancer but you may find it useful to one of the main cancer charities.

Complications of vulval cancer surgery

Having the lymph nodes in your groin removed can sometimes disrupt your lymphatic system.

One of the functions of the lymphatic system is to drain away excess fluid from your body, so removing them can lead to a build-up of fluid in the tissue.

This in turn can cause certain body parts to swell; in this case the arms and legs. This condition is known as lymphoedema.

There are exercises and massage techniques you can be taught to help reduce the swelling. Wearing specially designed bandages and compression garments can also help.

Last revised: 4 June 2013

Next review: 4 June 2015

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