Researchers note invasive surgery is currently the most common treatment
WEDNESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- A topical cream appears to be a highly effective treatment for precancerous lesions on the vulva, Dutch researchers report.
Rather than directly targeting the disease itself, the cream works by helping the body's own immune system fight off the human papillomavirus (HPV) -- which is often the root cause of the rare condition. The cream is currently used for precancerous skin lesions and superficial basal cell carcinoma, a highly treatable form of skin cancer.
"This is a disease that is normally treated by surgery, but that just takes away a lesion without getting at HPV, a common underlying root of the disease," said study author Dr. Manon van Seters, from the department of gynecology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam. "So, you have a chance that the lesion will come back, time and time again. But we found that the cream is a much less invasive and friendly way to get good lasting results."
The study was expected to be published in the April 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Seters stressed that the cream was tested only as a treatment for the precancerous disease -- not vulvar cancer itself.
"And we don't believe it'll work in vulvar cancer itself, because the invasive cancer itself is not as much related to the HPV virus," she said.
Vulvar cancer is a relatively rare disease that typically develops slowly over many years, often preceded by precancerous changes occurring in a woman's outer genitalia, within the tissues surrounding the opening of the vagina.
According to the American Cancer Society, vulvar cancer accounts for just over half of 1 percent of all cancers among American women. The organization projects that almost 3,500 new cases will be diagnosed this year, while about 870 American women will die from the illness i
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