Background: Vulval carcinoma is a relatively rare disorder that may have various aetiologies. Objectives To document the features and outcome in a series of patients with this disorder.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of patients presenting to a vulval clinic over a 5-year period.
Results: Twenty-one women presented with a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and two with a verrucous carcinoma (VC). The age range was 43-83 years. Twenty-one had well-established (1-30 years) vulval symptoms prior to developing their tumour. Specific tumour-related symptoms ranged from 3 weeks to 11 months. Eight had had a prior diagnosis of lichen sclerosus (LS) or lichen planus (LP), only two of whom were on regular treatment and follow-up. At presentation, 12 patients had clinical signs of LS, three of LP, and five had some changes of both LS and LP. Two patients had multifocal vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN3). Only one had no evidence of any background vulval skin disease. The commonest histological changes noted in the epithelium either adjacent to or distant from the SCC were those of atrophic LS (n = 8), LS with squamous cell hyperplasia (n = 3), LS with hyperplastic foci and lichenoid infiltrate (n = 4), and LS with differentiated VIN3 (n = 1). Four cases demonstrated the changes of LP, and three showed VIN3. All patients were treated surgically and, in those who had lymphadenectomy, four had positive nodes. There have been two deaths due to metastatic disease, and one further patient has developed a second primary SCC at a different site.
Conclusions: An underlying skin disorder prior to the development of their carcinoma was found in 22 of 23 patients with vulval SCC and is therefore an important risk factor.