Vulvar cancer doesn’t always have visible skin symptoms. When the symptoms do occur, they may include skin discoloration, wart-like bumps, mole-like spots, or bleeding sores.

You might notice different lumps and bumps on your vulva at times. Some of these may be harmless, such as pimples or ingrown hairs. Other visible changes may be symptoms of an underlying condition.

Vulvar cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that starts in the tissues of the vulva. The vulva includes the inner and outer labia, clitoral area, and vaginal opening.

The appearance of vulvar cancer depends on the type you have. Lumps, wart-like growths, and changes to the skin around the vulva may be cancer symptoms.

Vulvar cancer can sometimes cause bumps or lumps. Each growth may be a different color than the surrounding skin, have a rough surface, or resemble a wart.

You might also notice a patch of skin that’s different in color or texture than the rest of the vulva. The skin may be scaly or flaky.

Open sores or unusual spots could also occur due to cancer. Pay special attention to mole- or freckle-like marks that are new, asymmetrical, or otherwise change in color, shape, or size.

These visual changes aren’t always symptoms of vulvar cancer — they may be symptoms of another condition. It’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional.

Because vulvar cancer doesn’t always have visible skin symptoms, it’s important to be aware of the other symptoms of vulvar cancer.

These include:

If you have one or more of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to make a medical appointment as soon as possible.

While the causes of cancer aren’t clear, certain people may be more at risk of developing vulvar cancer than others.

You may be more likely to develop vulvar cancer if you have a history of inflammatory vulvar conditions. These include:

Other health conditions can also increase your risk, including:

Your risk of vulvar cancer can also increase with age. Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can also increase your risk of cancer of any kind.

If you believe you may be at risk of developing cancer, consult with a healthcare professional about screening.

While vulvar cancer doesn’t always have visible skin symptoms, it’s a good idea to learn how vulvar cancer looks.

If you’ve noticed any unusual changes to your vulva, including bumps or changes in skin color, consider making a medical appointment as soon as possible.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.