Doctor, is this cancer?

Doctor, is this cancer?



Dear doctor,

I’m a single 23 years old lady.  Two months ago, I noticed a soft swelling on my private part. Although it is not painful, it becomes more pronounced each time I have sex. I went to a nearby laboratory two weeks ago and the result of the test showed that I had staph aureus. The lab technician also said I will need some antibiotics to prevent the swelling from spreading.

Doctor, can you prescribe a good antibiotic for me? Do you think the swelling can lead to cancer if it is not fully treated now? Please help.

Christy, Lagos

Dr. Niyi says:

Dear Christy,

You have done well by writing to us about this swelling. My first advice is that you should see a gynaecologist or general practitioner  to calm any worries or anxieties you might have.  You should endeavour to seek their expertise in person, as swellings are better understood when seen.

Generally, swellings on the vagina or groin area are seen in the following conditions;

Boils – which are red, painful lumps on the skin caused by Staphylococcus aureus.

Folliculitis (always caused by S.aureus) -which is an infection of a hair follicle (small sac in the skin where hair grows from) which causes a bump to develop.This usually occurs when there is a break in the skin (during shaving or cuts) as Staphylococcus is commonly carried harmlessly on the skin.

Sebaceous/ Epidermoid cysts – these cysts are enclosed round sacs under the skin. They protrude under the skin and inside the sac is a sticky yellow goo called keratin. These cysts can grow not only on your private part but also on your face, neck and trunk. They do not cause pain and are almost always non-cancerous. They only become harmful when picked and burst, so any abrasions or trauma to the skin follicles in your vaginal area can cause a cyst to form.  There is a hereditary disposition to its occurrence as well and those with a past history of acne are more prone.

It is very unlikely that this swelling could become cancerous as vulvar cancer is rare, predominantly affecting older women and Caucasians. Symptoms would include bleeding after intercourse, a sore on the vulva, changes in skin colour and persistent itching and burning of the vulva. (None of which you currently experience as you have written). Nevertheless vulvar cancers are highly curable if detected early.

I would still insist you make an appointment with a GP or gynaecologist who can better recommend a course of treatment for your complaints.

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