Vulva -

Lichen Sclerosus

This article was last reviewed and updated on October 31, 2018
by Emily Goebel, MD FRCPC

Quick facts:

  • Lichen sclerosus is an inflammatory condition that affects skin of the vulva.

  • The cause of lichen sclerosus is not known.

  • Patients who have lichen sclerosus for many years are at risk for developing a pre-cancerous condition called differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (dVIN).

The normal vulva

The vulva is the external part of the female genital tract.  It forms the opening of the vagina and includes the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora and clitoris. The vulva is composed of skin. The outer surface of the skin is called the epidermis and it is made up of squamous cells. The tissue beneath the epidermis is called the dermis, it contains blood vessels and connective tissue.

What is lichen sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus is a non-cancerous (benign), chronic inflammatory skin condition. The exact cause is not known. Under the microscope, your pathologist will see changes in the epidermis and dermis of the vulva. The epidermis becomes thin and the squamous cells at the bottom of the epidermis with have clear spaces in them, called vacuoles.  The dermis can appear swollen or homogenized and contains a band of chronic inflammatory cells.

Although lichen sclerosus is a non-cancerous (benign) condition, untreated lichen sclerosus can lead to a pre-cancerous disease called differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (dVIN).

 

Differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is considered a pre-cancerous disease because, over time, it can turn into a cancer (a malignant tumour) called squamous cell carcinoma.

The diagnosis of lichen sclerosus is made after a small sample of tissue is removed in a procedure called a biopsy.  Lichen sclerosus is typically treated with topical therapy.  The patient will be monitored by their doctor and may have additional biopsies of any areas that may be worrisome for dVIN.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Copyright 2017 MyPathologyReport.ca

For more information about this site, contact us at info@mypathologyreport.ca.

Disclaimer: The articles on MyPathologyReport are intended for general informational purposes only and they do not address individual circumstances. The articles on this site are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MyPathologyReport site. The articles on MyPathologyReport.ca are intended for use within Canada by residents of Canada only.

Droits d'auteur 2017 MyPathologyReport.ca
Pour plus d'informations sur ce site, contactez-nous à info@mypathologyreport.ca.
Clause de non-responsabilité: Les articles sur MyPathologyReport ne sont destinés qu’à des fins d'information et ne tiennent pas compte des circonstances individuelles. Les articles sur ce site ne remplacent pas les avis médicaux professionnels, diagnostics ou traitements et ne doivent pas être pris en compte pour la prise de décisions concernant votre santé. Ne négligez jamais les conseils d'un professionnel de la santé à cause de quelque chose que vous avez lu sur le site de MyPathologyReport. Les articles sur MyPathologyReport.ca sont destinés à être utilisés au Canada, par les résidents du Canada uniquement.