Services > Cancer Center > Health Library

Treatment Options for Precancerous Lesions of the Vulva (VIN)

A colposcopy or a biopsy may show that you don’t have cancer, but do have precancerous lesions in your vulva.

Vulvar cancer develops slowly over a long period of time. It usually begins with precancerous changes that may last for many years. You may have vulvar rashes, moles, lumps, or other changes that don’t go away. The term most often used for this condition is vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). Intraepithelial means that the precancerous cells are confined to the surface layer of the vulvar skin called the epithelium. The type of treatment your doctor will suggest depends on the type of disease and how far it has progressed.

Your doctor may suggest one of these types of treatment:

  • Laser surgery to burn off the layer of abnormal cells. This is used for treating VIN, but not invasive cancer.

  • Removal of the top layer of vulvar skin, with or without a skin graft 

  • Surgical removal of small lesions or a wide local excision to remove precancerous lesions and some surrounding normal cells

  • A topical prescription medication that is applied to the skin of your vulva, such as imiquimod or fluorouracil, also called 5-FU. This is known as topical chemotherapy.

Because VIN may come back after treatment, be sure to keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor. Go back to your doctor if you have itching or burning on your vulva.