Skene’s gland cancer (female prostate gland cancer)

The Vulva Skene's Glands FULL VERSION

Skene’s gland cancer is a rare type of cancer found near the urethra, in the tiny glands that secrete fluid for lubrication during sex. Skene’s gland cancer is found in less than 0.003 per cent of all genital cancers in women.

The cancer is known as an adenocarcinoma of Skene’s gland, which usually occurs only in elderly women. The cause of Skene’s gland cancer is not known, but can be linked to HPV infection, smoking, and some hormonal medications.

Periurethral glands (Skene’s) are the female version of the male prostate when we are talking about the type of cells. This type of cancer closely resembles prostate cancer. Skene’s glands are known as the female prostate.

The Vulva Skene's Glands FULL VERSION

Symptoms of Skene’s gland cancer

  • Possibly no symptoms, especially in early stages
  • Usually single tumour, but can be more
  • Tumour may have an ulcer
  • Ulcer may heal and then reappear
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or discomfort on urination
  • Painful sex (dyspareunia)
  • Abnormal bleeding caused by the ulceration of the tumour
  • Itching or burning of the vulva/Skene’s gland area
  • Elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in some women
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

If you notice something unusual happening around your Skene’s glands or ducts, it could be a cyst or abscess, which are reasonably common, and treatable. See your doctor to be examined and get a treatment plan.

Risk factors of Skene’s gland cancer

  • Over 40 years old
  • HPV infection
  • History of mother taking synthetic oestrogen hormones during pregnancy (can affect adult children)
  • Irregular Pap testing
  • Pregnancy earlier than age 16
  • Women with multiple pregnancies
  • Low immunity caused by HIV/AIDS
  • Women taking immunosuppressive drugs

Treatment of Skene’s gland cancer

Treatment for Skene’s gland cancer is complete surgical removal of the gland, and possibly lymph nodes, followed by radiation.

If caught early, outcomes are good, however treatment delays can lead to spread of cancer to the lymph nodes nearby.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)