Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia 3 is the highest grade of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Although it has the highest likelihood of progressing to cancer, treatment can drastically reduce this risk.

These abnormal cells aren’t cancer, but they can turn into cancer if left untreated. Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia 3 is the most likely of any type of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia to progress to cancer. However, treatment can prevent cancer from developing.

The most common treatment for vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia 3 is surgery to remove the abnormal growth. Typically, this resolves the condition and eliminates the risk of cancer.

However, people who have had vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia still need monitoring to ensure cancer never develops.

Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia 3 is a type of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). VIN is a precancer. This means it’s not cancer but can sometimes develop into cancer.

VIN is the growth of a squamous lesion on the top layer of the vulva. VIN is typed by the thickness, or depth, of the growth. For instance, VIN 1, often just called VIN, has a thickness of only one-third of the top layer of vulvar skin.

VIN 3 has a thickness of over two-thirds of the top layer of vulvar skin. It’s the highest grade of VIN. Unlike VIN 1, VIN 3 always requires treatment. It’s more likely to lead to cancer than VIN 1 or VIN 2.

VIN 3 can cause the following symptoms:

The exact cause of VIN 3 is not known. However, researchers have linked the following risk factors to the condition:

All types of VIN can progress to cancer. The higher the grade of VIN, the more likely it is to progress to cancer.

This means VIN 3 progresses to cancer more often than VIN 1. However, treatment can completely resolve VIN 3. Treatment can stop cancer from developing and can drastically reduce the risk.

According to the American Cancer Society, without treatment, VIN 3 progresses to vulvar cancer about 88% of the time. With treatment, VIN 3 only progresses to cancer about 4% of the time.

The first step to diagnosing VIN 3 is typically a pelvic exam. During the exam, a healthcare professional closely examines your vulva, vagina, cervix, and anus. They might also perform a Pap smear and give an HPV test at this time, especially if you have symptoms such as itching and painful sex.

To get a closer look at your vulva and other affected areas, your healthcare professional will likely order additional testing. This could include:

VIN 3 is almost always treated surgically. The most common surgery to treat VIN 3 is called a vulvectomy. It removes all or part of the vulva to treat conditions that affect it.

To treat VIN 3, it might be possible to have a type of vulvectomy called “skinning,” where doctors remove only the top layer of the vulva. Your exact surgery will depend on your general health, the depth of your growth, and what your doctor thinks is best.

Although surgery is typically the best option, it’s not the only option. You might also have treatments such as:

Topical treatment with a cream or ointment that stimulates your immune system, causing it to kill the VIN, may also be used. However, this treatment can take a few months to work. It’s rarely used for VIN 3.

Treatment of VIN 3 is typically very successful. In many cases, surgery is a complete cure that can prevent cancer from developing.

However, there is a small chance that even treated VIN 3 can progress to vulvar cancer. Because of this chance, your doctor will regularly monitor you cancer, even after your treatment is complete. This allows them to spot any cancer that does develop early.

According to data collected by the National Cancer Institute between 2008 and 2014, vulvar cancer treated in an early stage has a 5-year relative survival rate of 86%.

VIN 3 is the highest grade of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, a type of precancerous growth on the vulva. It’s the most likely grade of VIN to progress to cancer. It can cause pain or itching in or around the vulva.

Although VIN 3 is linked to a high risk of cancer, treatment can resolve this risk for many people. The primary treatment for VIN 3 is surgery to remove the growth.

There’s still a small risk of recurrence, progression to cancer, or both after the growth is removed. People who have had VIN 3 will be monitored to ensure cancer hasn’t developed.