Doctors Thought I Had Chronic Yeast Infections—But I Really Had Cancer – Broadly

For most of her life, Clare Baumhauer assumed her sore, itchy vulva was normal. “From when I was primary school [elementary] age, I was telling my mum that I was sore and itchy down there, and that it was burning when I went to the toilet,” the 45-year-old hospitality supervisor recalls.

“I remember her taking me to see my GP two or three times. He never looked at me, but I was given different creams and none of them helped. Even at that age, I quickly became reluctant to keep going back.”

After nearly 40 years of being misdiagnosed with everything from yeast infections to cystitisearly menopause, eczema, and even herpes, in 2016 Baumhauer received a devastating diagnosis of vulva cancer—caused, in her case, by a little-known skin condition called lichen sclerosus (LS).

“Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin, commonly seen in the vulva and perineum area,” explains Professor Dharani Hapangama, a spokesperson for charity Wellbeing of Women and consultant gynecological surgeon at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

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