Skip to main content

Second Cancers After Vulvar Cancer

On this page

Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is a second cancer. No matter what type of cancer you've had, it's still possible to get another (new) cancer, even after surviving the first.

People who have had cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, certain types of cancer and cancer treatments can be linked to a higher risk of certain second cancers.

Survivors of vulvar cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of:

Many of these cancers are linked to smoking and/or infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which are also risk factors for vulvar cancer.

Follow-up after treatment

After completing treatment for vulvar cancer, women will see their doctors regularly to look for signs of the cancer coming back, as well as a second vulvar cancer, or new cancers of the vagina and anus. Experts do not recommend additional testing to look for second cancers in women without symptoms. But be sure to let your doctor know about any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer coming back or by a new disease or second cancer.

Survivors of vulvar cancer should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer and stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many of the second cancers seen in women treated for vulvar cancer.

To help maintain good health, survivors should also:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight
  • Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
  • Not drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men

These steps may also lower the risk of some other health problems.

See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: June 9, 2020

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.