Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 67–74 | Cite as

A cluster of vulvar cancer and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia in young Australian Indigenous women

  • John R. Condon
  • Alice R. RumboldEmail author
  • Jane C. Thorn
  • Margaret M. O’Brien
  • Margaret J. Davy
  • Ibrahim Zardawi
Original Paper



To describe the epidemiological features of a possible disease cluster of vulvar cancer and pre-cancers in Australian Indigenous women living in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia.


We identified NT-resident women with a confirmed histological diagnosis of vulvar cancer or high-grade vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 2005.


Seventy-one women were identified; 32 diagnosed with vulvar cancer and 39 with high-grade VIN. Most women diagnosed were Indigenous, aged less than 50 years and living in remote communities in the East Arnhem (EA) district, on the north-east coast of the NT. The age-adjusted incidence rate of vulvar cancer in EA Indigenous women aged 0–49 years was 31.1 per 100,000 (95% CI 13.1–49.1), over 50 times higher than the national Australian rate (0.4 per 100,000, 95% CI 0.4–0.5) for the same age-group. In the age-group of 0–49 years, the age-adjusted incidence rate of VIN for EA Indigenous women was 34.7 per 100,000 (95% CI 15.2–54.3), compared with 6.7 per 100,000 (95% CI 2.0–11.4) for Indigenous women living elsewhere in the Top End of the NT.


These data provide evidence of a geographic cluster of vulvar cancer in remote Indigenous communities in northern Australia.


Vulvar neoplasms Ethnology Incidence 



We are grateful to Dr. Steve Guthridge, Ms. Debbie Taylor-Thomson, and staff of the Health Gains Planning Branch of the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services (NTDHCS), and Northern Territory Hospitals for advice and assistance during data collection and analysis. We thank Dr. Tom Dodds, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide, for providing a second opinion of cases of vulvar cancer. Financial support: Funding for this study was provided by the NT DHCS. Alice Rumbold and John Condon were supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Capacity Building Grant #236235.

Conflicts of interest

We are not aware of any financial or other conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. Condon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alice R. Rumbold
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jane C. Thorn
    • 3
  • Margaret M. O’Brien
    • 4
  • Margaret J. Davy
    • 5
  • Ibrahim Zardawi
    • 6
  1. 1.Services, Systems and Society DivisionMenzies School of Health ResearchCasuarinaAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Advanced StudiesCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyFlinders Medical CentreAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyCairns Base HospitalCairnsAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Gynecologic OncologyRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  6. 6.Hunter Area Pathology ServiceJohn Hunter HospitalNew LambtonAustralia

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