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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2000 December;52(12):491-6


language: Italian

Screening strategies for vulvar preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions

Caschetto S., Caragliano L., Cassaro N., Consalvo P., Bianca G., Garozzo G.


Background. Althrough they cover superficial areas, preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions of the vulva are often diagnosed late. The reasons for this delay is the low incidence of this invasive neoplasm, the advanced age of patients, the non-specific symptoms mainly taking the form of itch, burning, dyspareunia and blood loss, which are also compatible with a non-neoplastic infective pathology. The late diagnosis of carcinoma of the vulva may also be linked to the inadequate examination of the external genitals by doctors as a result of insufficient specific knowledge. Epidemiological data and the natural history of VIN lesions and carcinoma of the vulva argue that mass screening is not feasible, but an adequate programme of early diagnosis must be introduced. Early diagnosis is linked to three key elements: targeted anamnesis, clinical examination and the appropriate use of the various diagnostic procedures. Vulvoscopy represents the most reliable method, above all because it allows a biopsy to be taken of any suspected lesion.
Methods. From January 1992 to December 1998, a total of 1678 vulvoscopies were performed at the Institute of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of Catania in patients aged between 16 and 82 years old. Biopsies were taken of all suspected lesions.
Results. Sixty-nine cases of VIN (4.11%) were diagnosed: 28 VIN1, 24 VIN2 and 17 VIN3. Lesions were only symptomatic in 39.1% of cases.
Conclusions. The association of vulvoscopy with biopsy of suspected lesions, even in the absence of vulvar symptoms, represents the most efficacious method for the diagnosis of intraepithelial lesions.

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