What is vulval intra-epithelial neoplasia (VIN)?
VIN is when particular changes occur in the skin that covers the vulva (the external gential area including the labia or lips).
It is not cancer and often disappears without treatment.
If the changes become more severe then cancer could develop, so VIN is considered a pre-cancerous condition.
VIN is not the same as VAIN which only affects areas of skin within the vaginal passage.
VIN affects women of any age from the 20s onwards and is becoming more common.
VIN is divided into two types:
Usual type VIN
The most common type. Mostly found in younger women aged 35-55. It includes VIN, warty type; VIN, basaloid type and VIN, mixed (warty, basaloid) type.
Differentiated type VIN
Rarer and more often found in women aged 55-85. May occur alongside other skin conditions that can affect the vulva, such as lichen sclerosis.
VIN is also graded depending on how abnormal the cells look in examination:
- Grade 1 - The cells look fairly normal and are generally slow-growing.
- Grade 2 - The cells look more abnormal than grade 1, but not as abnormal as grade 3.
- Grade 3 -The cells look very abnormal. They are likely to grow more quickly.
Th symptoms of VIN
- itching and soreness in the vulval area
- burning, or a severe tingling sensation, that can become worse when passing urine
- one or more areas of reddened, white or discoloured skin in the vulval area
- raised areas of skin that can vary in size
- a warty appearance to the skin
Causes of VIN
VIN is associated with HPV but not all women who have HPV will develop VIN. Differentiated type VIN is not associated with an HPV infection.
When the body's immune system is down the risk of VIN increases. Smoking, some medications, inherited immunity problems and some rare bone marrow and blood disorders can all increase the chances of developing VIN.
Treatment of VIN
Often VIN goes away on it's own but the type and grade will often determine the treatment which can include surgery, diathermy or steroid cream.