Representational picture. Pixabay

A woman who thought a small bump on her vagina was an ingrown hair was months later diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that affects women's external genitals, a report said.

Marisa Strupp, a 29-year-old woman, was told by her doctor that it was nothing serious as the skin around the anomaly was healthy, but was later diagnosed with Vulval cancer when she got herself tested after a delay of five months.

She later underwent a three-hour surgery to get rid of the tumour and four central nodes as cancer, which typically affects women after menopause, had already spread.

"I was horrified, scared and paralyzed with fear," said the woman, who first heard of the illness after getting diagnosed.

"I thought it was just a little ingrown hair, and I took my time to get it removed. I was very busy with work at the time, and took time to see my gynaecologist," The Sun quoted the woman as saying.

She has now finished her year-long immunotherapy treatment called Opdivo, which consists of 12 treatments over a year, and now waiting for her scan results.

The life-threatening condition is rarely diagnosed because of shame and taboo around the issue.

"I have vulva cancer. It's seen as a taboo but it's going to claim my life," Leicestershire Live quoted Emma Robinson, another vulval cancer patient, as saying.

The woman, who wanted to spread the awareness regarding the rare disease said that she knew of some people who died without ever seeing a doctor because they were too embarrassed.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), about 1,300 cases of vulval cancer are diagnosed across the UK every year, with the condition returning after successful treatment in as many as a third of cases.

The NHS said the cause of the cancer was yet not known but was more prominent in older women, smokers, and people with persistent Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and its symptoms include pain, soreness or persistent itch in the vulva, the external part of the vagina including the labia, clitoris, and glands.