She was treated for different things except cancer. She now pleads with other women NOT to ignore these symptoms.
The story of Clare Baumhauer, 44, has gone viral due to her warnings towards other women and our unfamiliarity with this type of cancer.
Clare commented that she suffered from itching in the vulvar area since adolescence as reported by Health Medicine Network, however, they never gave more importance to this symptom and treated it as an irritation, herpes or cystitis; she never imagined how far from the truth they were.
Not receiving a clear answer and a definitive solution to her problem, Clare continued to experience this symptom that came and went. When she turned 30, Clare developed an ulcer and went to the doctors again. Again, she was diagnosed with a type of sclerosis and it was not until ten years later that doctors came to the correct diagnosis.
She was finally diagnosed with vulvar cancer, and due to the radiation therapy and treatments she had to undergo, her menopause came much earlier than it should have.
“I had never actually heard of vulvar cancer, I had not really heard of the vulva, ” Clare said.
Itching, a condition that caused cancer to develop
“I was referred to a gynecologist who ordered three biopsies,” explains Clare, adding that as a result the doctors diagnosed her with Lichen Sclerosis, a condition that “actually caused her vulvar cancer.”
This itchy condition would have been responsible for her developing cancer that was small at the time of her diagnosis, but was developing by leaps and bounds. And despite the fact that the surgery removed the entire affected area, the final results showed that it had expanded to the nodes of the lymphatic system, for which she had to undergo a series of 25 radiation therapy sessions.
What doctors want you to know about Lichen Sclerosis
It is a condition that produces a kind of thinner skin patches anywhere on the body.
The most common place for this condition to develop is in the vulvar area.
All women can develop this condition at any age, but women who are in menopause are more prone.
In some cases, no treatment is necessary, but you should always consult a doctor.
It has no cure, but it can be controlled, and lack of treatment can lead to vulvar cancer.
According to Mayo Clinic the symptoms that you should not ignore are the following:
Itching that can be extreme
Discomfort or pain in the affected area
Soft, white patches on your skin
Red and wrinkled skin
Skin that hurts or bruises easily
In severe cases there may be bleeding in the area, blisters and ulcers
Pain when being intimate
If some of these symptoms occur, with itching being the most common, you should consult your doctor and mention all the symptoms without leaving any information unshared.
What Doctors Want You To Know About Vulvar Cancer
The vulva is the outer area of a woman’s genitalia. It includes the vagina, labia major, and labia minor.
In general, and according to the American Cancer Association, this type of cancer affects the labia major or minor.
Some of the risk factors for developing this cancer are age (less than 20% of women who suffer from this cancer are under 50 years old), the presence of human papilloma, smoking, AIDS, suffering from vulvar Intrapithelial Neoplasia (the presence of abnormal cells on the surface of the skin of the vulva), suffering from Lichen Sclerosis, other types of genital cancers and certain types of skin cancer.
Can it be prevented?
According to the American Cancer Association, part of prevention lies in reducing the risk factors that we can manipulate.
Quitting smoking, avoiding casual sex to reduce our chances of contracting infections or venereal diseases, going to the gynecologist for an annual exam, are some of the ways to prevent this type of cancer.
It is also important to do a self-exam of the genital area paying attention to skin color, appearance, presence of warts, or any changes. And of course, if you have itching in that area, it is better to see a doctor instead of just buying an over-the-counter cream at a pharmacy.